Pope Francis is urging bishops and religious superiors to cooperate with his sex abuse commission, seeking to give the committee a boost as it meets for the first time Friday with its full membership.

In a letter released Thursday, Francis said the commission is an important new way to encourage the church's commitment to taking "whatever steps are necessary" to ensure children are protected.

He wrote: "Priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors."

The commission has been slow getting off the ground: Announced in December 2013, it saw its final members added in December 2014.