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Pope Francis sets up commission to handle sex abuse appeals

Between 2004 and 2013, the Vatican defrocked about 850 priests over sexual abuse of minors. Many of those priests filed appeals, which will now be handled by a new commission, freeing the original office to keep moving forward with new cases.

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Pope Francis prays as he opens the morning session of a two-week synod on family issues at the Vatican Saturday.

Andrew Medichini/AP

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Pope Francis has set up a new commission to handle appeals by priests who have been disciplined for sexual abuse of minors, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

A Vatican spokesman said the commission, a new part of the Vatican's doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, would be made up of seven bishops or cardinals and had been set up to deal with a backlog of appeals.

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He said Vatican was receiving four or five appeals a month in cases of "delicta graviora," the Vatican terminology for grave offenses including sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

Under the changes, the new commission would handle appeals while an existing office in the doctrinal department would continue to handle initial cases.

The Vatican said earlier this year that between 2004 and 2013, it had defrocked about 850 priests who had been accused of sexual abuse of minors.

(Editing by Ruth Pitchford)