Pope Francis Forms Tribunal to Judge Bishop Child Sex Abuse Cases

Pope tribunal
Pope Francis is greeted as he leaves at the end of the general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on Wednesday. Tony Gentile/Reuters

In a major move for the Vatican, Pope Francis on Wednesday created a new tribunal to hear cases of bishops who allegedly covered up sexual abuse by pedophile priests.

The formation is the biggest step the Vatican ever has taken to hold bishops accountable. It asks for the creation of a special judicial section inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Associated Press reported.

No bishop has been removed involuntarily for failing to protect children from sexually abusive priests. But earlier this year, Francis accepted the resignation of a bishop in Missouri who previously neglected to report suspected child abuse by one of the priests in his diocese. In 2012, Bishop Robert Finn pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failure to report the abuse.

Francis, 78, is viewed by many around the world as a progressive pope because of his significant rhetorical breaks with Catholic tradition. He is the first Jesuit and Latin American pontiff.

He took control of the papacy from Pope Benedict XVI in March 2013.