Pope Francis ordered his staff on Friday to take "decisive action" against the sexual violation of minors.
In a statement, the Vatican said the pontiff had ordered the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to "act decisively as far as cases of sexual abuse are concerned, promoting, above all, measures to protect minors, help for those who have suffered such violence in the past [and] the necessary procedures against those who are guilty."
It said the pope wanted Catholic bishops around the world to promote and put into place "directives in this matter which is so important for the witness of the Church and its credibility," Reuters reports.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) criticized the statement, saying that the church's stance against sexual abuse was "a continuation" of the policy of Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.
"Action, not discussion, is needed," SNAP said in a statement. "We can't confuse words with actions. When we do, we hurt kids. We must insist on new tangible action that helps vulnerable children protect their bodies, not old vague pledges that help a widely-discredited institution protect its reputation."
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