Pope Francis' sex abuse commission has taken another step with the publication of its statutes outlining its mission to protect children from predator priests.

The statutes, signed by the Vatican secretary of state and made public Friday, make clear the commission's aim is to propose new initiatives to Francis to compel bishops and religious superiors to better protect children. With that priority, the commission has been authorized to evaluate the effectiveness of existing child protection programs in individual parishes, dioceses, religious orders and national bishops' conferences.

The commission was announced in December 2013 but was slow to get off the ground. With its full membership and statutes now complete, working groups are expected to start proposing ways to hold bishops more accountable and educate church members about sex abuse.