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Europe

Vatican picks child abuse board chief

media Pope Francis in Manila Reuters/ Stefano Rellandini

The Vatican has announced that its long-time sex abuse prosecutor, Bishop Charles Scicluna, has been named to head a new board to hear appeals by priests who are accused of molesting minors.

Bishop Charles Scicluna will head the new panel, which includes some of the Vatican's most senior and seasoned canon lawyers.

Pope Francis announced the creation of the panel last November in a bid to speed up the Vatican's review of appeals by priests sanctioned for abuse.

In recent years the Vatican has been receiving on average 400-500 accusations a year, significantly increasing the caseload the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has had to deal with.

Scicluna was the congregation's sex crimes prosecutor from 2002 to 2012 and was responsible for cracking down on abusive priests with new laws that were put in place.

Even without a church trial, the new laws now allow the Pope to defrock a priest when the evidence is overwhelming.

Scicluna, who has been praised by victims of abuse for his tough line, runs the archdiocese in his native Malta.

He is expected to remain in that position even with the new appointment.
 

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