ROME — A day after announcing that one of two members who is a survivor of clerical sexual abuse is taking a leave of absence amid bitter criticism of the Church and the pope, a sexual abuse commission created by Francis sent a clear signal on Monday that its work will go on.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors released a statement saying it is preparing to ask Pope Francis to remind all bishops of the importance of personal outreach to abuse victims, and also to institute a “Universal Day of Prayer” as well as a penitential liturgy for the crime of sexual abuse.

Led by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, the commission was created in December 2013 to advise Francis on best practices in the fight against child sexual abuse. It’s an advisory body, with no authority to set policy or to judge specific abuse complaints.

In upcoming months, commission members say they’ll hold workshops on the legal aspects of the protection of minors with the goal of promoting more transparent Church trials and present recommendations to the commission’s next general assembly.

The full 17-member commission meets in Rome twice a year. In between, the members — including nuns, priests, psychologists, psychotherapists, and survivors — divide tasks into smaller working groups.

Members say they’re in contact with numerous bishops conferences around the world looking for resources, and have organized meetings and workshops for Church authorities in the Philippines, Austria, New Zealand, Scotland, Poland, as well as taking part in two initiatives of the US bishop’s conference called National Safe Environment and Victims Assistance Coordinators.

These meetings will continue throughout the year, according to commission officials, with a session also planned for March with the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.

The statement said nothing about the decision, announced over the weekend, to assign “a leave of absence” to abuse survivor Peter Saunders, whose strong criticism of Pope Francis’ response to several recent abuse-related controversies had created tensions inside the commission about its role.

At his own news conference Saturday, Saunders insisted he’s still a member of the commission and will remain so until he decides to leave or Pope Francis personally asks him to step down.

However, a Vatican spokesman said on Monday that the separation with Saunders “was a unanimous decision made by the members, with only one abstention.”

“He can say what he wants,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi said of Saunders’ statements.

Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of clerical sexual abuse, said on Twitter that she hadn’t voted in favor of removing Saunders when asked if she had been the abstention.

Saunders told reporters on Saturday he had hoped to use the commission assembly to bring up the case of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros, accused of covering up for his mentor, the Rev. Fernando Karadima.

Karadima was found guilty of abuse of minors and the Vatican condemned him to a life of seclusion and prayer, and the pope’s appointment of Barros to the diocese of Osorno caused a stir in the country.

Speaking to journalist on Saturday, Saunders called the commission “a disgrace,” adding that “they [the Church] believe that child abuse, rape, is behind us already. This is not behind us.”

In response, a member of the commission told Crux that Saunders sees the commission as an advocacy group, while the rest of the body, in keeping with Francis request, doesn’t.

Monday’s press release also includes Francis’ original mission statement for the body, which outlines its task “to propose to me the most opportune initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults, in order that we may do everything possible to ensure that crimes such as those which have occurred are no longer repeated in the Church.”

In keeping with that mandate, officials say the commission is currently working on a website to promote best practices in the fight against the sexual abuse of minors around the world.

In a previous interview with Crux, the Rev. Robert Oliver of Boston, the commission’s chief of staff, said that hopes the commission can become a force for child protection not just in the Catholic Church, but society at large.

According to the National Sex Offender Public Website, run by the US government, approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.