Pope names prominent Chilean clerical abuse survivor to Vatican panel

FILE PHOTO: Alleged abuse victim Juan Carlos Cruz speaks to the media outside the Vatican in Rome, Italy February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis has appointed a prominent Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse to a Vatican commission which focuses on education to prevent abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

Juan Carlos Cruz, an international advocate for abuse victims, was abused as a teenager in his native Chile by a notorious paedophile, Father Fernando Karadima.

"I am very grateful to Pope Francis for trusting me with this appointment... This renews my commitment to continue working to end the scourge of abuse and for so many survivors who still do not have justice," Cruz said on Twitter.

During the pope's trip to Chile in 2018, Cruz criticised Francis for defending a bishop whom Cruz and other victims accused of having witnessed Karadima abuse them and of covering up for him.

Days after returning to Rome, the Argentinian-born pope, citing new information, ordered an investigation of the Church in Chile. It produced a 2,300-page report accusing Chile's bishops of "grave negligence" in investigating the allegations and said evidence of sex crimes had been destroyed.

Francis later that year received Cruz and other victims of Karadima in the Vatican and demanded the resignation of all of Chile's bishops. Francis expelled Karadima, now 90, from the priesthood later in 2018.

The pope and Cruz, who now lives in the United States, have since had regular contacts to discuss sexual abuse in the Church.

Most members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors that Cruz has now joined are priests, nuns, academics and psychologists.

Two past members of the commission, Marie Collins of Ireland and Peter Saunders of Britain, have expressed frustration that it is not doing enough.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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