Pope Appoints Americans To Head Prosecution Of Sex Abuse

The pope has appointed a new "Promoter of Justice" charged with taking on cases of sexual abuse by priests.

Pope Appoints Americans To Head Prosecution Of Sex Abuse
Getty Images / Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea

A number of Americans are set to play a crucial role in the Catholic Church's handling of its sex abuse cases — an area where Pope Francis has drawn criticism.

The Vatican has named an American as president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was created last year and is charged with combating sexual abuse in the church. (Video via ABC)

Crux reports Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley will head the commission, with fellow Bostonian Father Robert Oliver named secretary of the commission. Both have worked on the issue of clergy sex abuse in the past. 

In addition to them, Vatican Radio reports Chicago-based Father Robert J. Geisinger will now serve as "promoter of justice," essentially playing the role of chief prosecutor in cases of canon-law violation, such as sex abuse. 

The pope was criticized earlier this year when he defended the Vatican's handling of the issue in an interview with a prominent Italian newspaper. 

BARBARA BLAINE VIA NBC: "It's heartbreaking for us as victims to see the true colors of Pope Francis, and it seems to be that he wants the same reckless and private ways of coping to continue."

The pope later asked for forgiveness from those who'd been sexually abused, pledging to "take on all the evil" perpetrated by priests in the church. (Video via Catholic News Service)

The issue was in the news earlier in the week, too, when the head of the Roman Catholic church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady — accused of helping cover up cases of sexual abuse — resigned. (Video via ITV)

BRADY VIA RTE: "I too need to say sorry and to ask forgiveness, and I do so again today. ... The people of Ireland will remain in my prayers for the rest of my life."

More than 3,000 civil suits have been filed against the Catholic Church over the issue of sexual abuse in the U.S. alone.