thetimes.co.uk/ British anti-paedophile campaigner joins Pope’s child sex inquiry

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SHAFAQNA – A leading British anti-paedophile campaigner, who was abused as a child by Catholic priests, has been named as the newest member of Pope Francis’ commission investigating abuse.Peter Saunders, who has challenged the UK government’s inquiry into alleged abuse at Westminster, will travel to Rome in February for his first session with the Vatican commission battling predator priests.

“I am delighted, surprised and privileged to be asked,” said Saunders, 57, who set up the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) 19 years ago after being abused by priests, as well as by a teacher and a member of his own family.

In July, he was one of six abuse victims invited to meet the Pope, who has vowed to crack down on paedophile priests.

“It won’t be a picnic, there is lots of hard work to do, as I told Pope Francis in July,” said Mr Saunders. “But he is not interested in window dressing, and I am proud to be part of a body that will hold him to his word.”

The Catholic Church has been rocked by hundreds of allegations of abuse, most recently in Australia, where a royal commission is investigating.

“I hear the Australian Church is not co-operating with the royal commission. If that is true, I will be bringing it up immediately,” he said.

Mr Saunders said he had been “a thorn in the side” of the Catholic Church for years. “Cardinal Basil Hume told me 19 years ago he would help set up a charity against abuse, but then the shutters came down and I was sent to see a drunken monsignor who said he had never heard of abusive priests.”

After successfully pushing for the resignation of two chairwomen of the inquiry into abuse by UK politicians set up by Theresa May, the home secretary, Mr Saunders said he was now backing the UK investigation.

“I have faith in Pope Francis, but I also have faith in Theresa May. She wants to do the right thing,” he said.

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