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Pope creates tribunal to hear bishop child abuse cases

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has created a new Vatican tribunal section to hear cases of bishops who fail to protect children from sexually abusive priests.

The move marks the biggest step yet the Vatican has taken to hold bishops accountable. No bishop has ever been forcibly removed for covering up for guilty clergy, although in April, Francis accepted the resignation of a U.S. bishop who had been convicted of failing to report a suspected child abuser.

The Vatican said Wednesday that Francis had approved proposals made by his sexual abuse advisory board. They create a mechanism by which the Vatican can examine complaints of abuse of office by bishops and adjudicate them. It calls for the creation of a special judicial section inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.