Church bishops
The Church has been called on to take stronger action against clerics found guilty of sex abuse [File photo] Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

Pope Francis' sex abuse advisor reiterated the pontiff's unwavering commitment to eradicate the problem, and explained that it was being done through a "victim-first" approach. Speaking at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University on 23 March, Cardinal Sean O'Malley said that there was no doubt of the pontiff's goal to make the church a place of safety.

"Let there be no doubt about it: Pope Francis is thoroughly committed to rooting out the scourge of sex abuse in the church," he said. "Making our church safe for all people demands our collaboration on all levels."

The Church has been accused of dragging its feet in regards to sex abuse and taking swift and strong action against the abusers. O'Malley explained that it was imperative to "learn from our experiences, including our mistakes," and target the problem head-on.

His statement follows the much-publicised resignation of Marie Collins from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Collins, the only member who is a clerical abuse victim, claimed "lack of cooperation" by the Roman Curia and said that there was "lack of resources", "inadequate structures," and "cultural resistance" from the Vatican.

"I have come to the point where I can no longer be sustained by hope," she wrote in her resignation statement. "As a survivor, I have watched events unfold with dismay."

O'Malley said the commission planed to discuss Collins' resignation and the issues she brought up at the next closed-door plenary meeting. "There is simply no justification in our day for failures to enact concrete safeguarding standards for our children, young men and women and vulnerable adults," he said adding that the church needs to "reform and renew" its own institutions.