A member of its commission on protecting children was asked to take a leave of absence last weekend.

Peter Saunders talks during a news conference in Rome on Feb. 6. (Photo: Tony Gentile/Reuters)
 
The Vatican on Monday announced a new series of policies and projects following a weeklong assembly of a commission aimed at preventing child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. But the ousting from the Pope Francis–appointed panel of one of its most outspoken members has cast doubt on its commitment to reform. 

The Vatican's press statement did not mention its decision on Saturday to suspend Peter Saunders, a survivor of clergy abuse who had been enlisted to join the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Critics say the controversy, which comes amid widespread scrutiny of the appointment of a Chilean bishop accused of concealing abuse, is only the latest example of the church's continued need for increased accountability and external oversight.

"This notion that the church needs new policies and panels and procedures and protocols—it's really just smart PR, but it's also very, very, very disingenuous," said David Clohessy, a survivor of clergy abuse and founder of the national support and advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. The commission's efforts "on paper look great," he said. "It's just that they're never enforced."

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