The Vatican is to set up a special committee to improve measures to protect children against sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
It is Pope Francis’ first major step to address a crisis that has disgraced the organisation.
The new committee is expected to come up with measures to help victims affected by the sex abuse.
Sean O’Malley, Cardinal of Archdiocese of Boston explained: “The responsibilities of the commission will be to study the present programmes in place for protection of children and to come up with suggestions for new initiatives on the part of the Curia, in collaboration with the bishops and the episcopal conferences and the religious superiors,” he told reporters.
The proposal of a child protection committee was first discussed on Wednesday and Francis immediately approved the suggestion when told of it, meaning it could be immediately announced, O’Malley added.
Thursday’s announcement follows several private meetings between the pope and a commission of eight cardinals set up to discuss the Holy See’s troubles.
Earlier this week, the Vatican was criticised for not sharing details of its internal probe into sex abuse cases.
In January, the Holy See will be questioned by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on its response to the abuse crisis in relation to the 1990 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Holy See has signed.
The Convention spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.