By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pope Francis’ decision to hold bishops accountable for failing to protect children from clergy sex abuse is drawing praise from a Philadelphia-based professor who follows the Vatican and Catholic Church issues.

St. Joseph’s University theology professor William Madges says the pope’s approval of a new Vatican tribunal to examine how bishops have responded to clergy abuse cases – only a year after appointing an advisory panel on the subject – is significant.

Madges says what’s most striking in the pope’s announcement is that a judicial panel will look at cases of omission as well as commission…What that means is…

“Not holding bishops accountable only if they actively helped cover something up or were guilty of abuse themselves,” Madges says, “but rather if they failed to act namely, if they should have known what was going on and didn’t know or didn’t take the appropriate action.”

Madges says it shows the pope’s resolve in dealing with the past and his commitment to protecting children now and in the future.