Pope Francis' sex abuse commission has begun an important new phase of its work: Bringing the expertise of its members to bishops' conferences in the developing world that have long lagged behind Anglophone countries in crafting guidelines to prevent abuse and care for survivors.

In August, three members of the commission held a three-day workshop with 76 of the 92 Filipino bishops. Next month, the head of the commission, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, and two other commission members will conduct a similar workshop for the Central American bishops' conference.

In both cases, officials said Monday, the bishops asked the commission for help — an important development given that bishops have long been criticized for failing to sanction abusive priests out of fear of protecting the church and preventing scandal.