Pope Francis on Wednesday approved an unprecedented Vatican department to judge bishops accused of covering up or not preventing sexual abuse of minors, meeting a key demand by victims' groups.
A statement said the department would come under the auspices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's doctrinal arm, "to judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors".
Victims groups have for years been urging the Vatican to establish clear procedures to make bishops more accountable for abuse in their dioceses, even if they were not directly responsible for it.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters that the bishops could also be judged if they had failed to take measures to prevent sexual abuse of minors.
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