Pope Francis has abolished the use of the Vatican's highest level of secrecy in clergy sexual abuse cases.

The Vatican's leading sex crimes investigator says the reform over the rule of pontifical secrecy is an “epochal decision," and a leading survivor calls it “excellent news.”

Francis had faced mounting criticism that the high degree of confidentiality covering abuse cases has been used to protect pedophiles, silence victims and keep law enforcement from investigating the crimes.

Francis decreed that information in abuse cases must be protected to ensure its “security, integrity and confidentiality.”

But he said the “pontifical secret” rule no longer applies.

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