Irish abuse victim Marie Collins has been appointed to the Vatican commission on protecting children from abuse. 

In December, the Vatican said it would set up a special committee to improve measures to protect children against sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis announced the first eight members today, four men and four women, but the scope of the commission remains unknown.

Also on the commission is Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley, who revealed the initiative last December. 

The initial members will be responsible for rounding out the "commission for safeguarding minors" with other experts from around the world and defining the scope of the group's action.

"Pope Francis has made clear that the Church must hold the protection of minors amongst Her highest priorities," Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

"Looking to the future without forgetting the past, the Commission will take a multi-pronged approach to promoting youth protection," he said.

These will include taking criminal action against offenders, educating people about the exploitation of children, developing best practices to better screen priests, and defining the civil and clerical duties within the Church, Rev Lombardi said.

In 2012, Ms Collins was the opening speaker at a four-day symposium on child sexual abuse in the church held in Rome.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin extended his congratulations to Ms Collins saying: "Her contribution to the work of child protection in the Archdiocese of Dublin has been crucial and her advice and critical comment have been of invaluable help and inspiration to me personally".