Pope taps Chilean sex abuse whistleblower for Vatican panel

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FILE - In this April 24, 2018 file photo, clergy sex abuse survivor and victim's advocate Juan Carlos Cruz, from Chile, is interviewed by The Associated Press, outside the Vatican's St. Peter's Square, in Rome, Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Pope Francis on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 named Cruz, who helped uncover a clerical sex abuse scandal, to a Vatican commission which advises the pontiff on how to protect children from pedophile clergy. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, file)

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Wednesday named a Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse to serve on a Vatican commission that advises the pontiff on how to protect children from pedophile priests.

The Vatican said Juan Carlos Cruz is the latest member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Other members of the panel include a bishop, priests, nuns and lay experts.

Cruz and other survivors of a prominent Chilean predator priest were invited by the pope in 2018 to discuss their cases with him.

Decades of sex abuse scandals in many countries, including allegations that church officials covered up the wrongdoing of priests, have eroded the Catholic Church’s credibility among the faithful.

Cruz was the main whistleblower on clerical abuse and coverup in his homeland, one of the more high-profile sex abuse scandals.

He is a survivor of abuse by Chilean priest Fernando Karadima, a charismatic preacher who was defrocked by the pope in 2018. The Vatican said Francis inflicted that punishment for “the good of the church.”

During the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, Karadima was sanctioned to a lifetime of penance and prayer for having sexually abused minors in a Santiago, Chile, parish.

Cruz helped spearhead the quest for justice for those who suffered abuse and for an overhaul of the Chilean church hierarchy.