Pontifical Commission For the Protection of Minors
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Pontifical Commission For the Protection of Minors

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (Italian: Pontificia Commissione per la Tutela dei Minori) is a pontifical commission within the Roman Curia of the Catholic Church instituted by Pope Francis on 22 March 2014 as an advisory agency serving the pope. Since 5 June 2022, the Commission has been part of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, operating with its own officials and according to its own norms.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, has been its first and current president since 17 December 2014.[1]

Task

Pope Francis's chirograph for the Institution of a Pontifical Commission for the Protection of minors (22 March 2014) states:[2]

The aim of the Commission is to promote the protection of the dignity of minors and vulnerable adults, using the forms and methods, consonant with the nature of the Church, which they consider most appropriate, as well as through their cooperation with individuals and groups pursuing these same objectives.

His apostolic consecration Praedicate evangelium (19 March 2022) states:[3]

The Pontifical Commission assists diocesan/eparchial Bishops, Episcopal Conferences and Eastern Hierarchical Structures, Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and their Conferences in developing appropriate strategies and procedures, through Guidelines to protect minors and vulnerable persons from sexual abuse and to provide an appropriate response to such conduct by clergy and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, according to canonical norms and taking into account the requirements of civil law.

Organisation

The pope appoints the Commission's president and secretary and members to five-year terms. The members need not be clerics; all are to be "distinguished by science, proven ability and pastoral experience". The Commission advises the pope and proposes "initiatives for the protection of minors and vulnerable persons". It assists bishops and their organizations as well as all forms of religious associations "in developing appropriate strategies and procedures [...] to protect minors and vulnerable persons from sexual abuse and to provide an adequate response to such conduct by the clergy' and other religious. In doing so it follows "canonical norms" and considers as well "the requirements of civil law". Though part of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Commission has its own officials and operates according to its own norms.[3]

History

Creation

On 5 December 2013, following a meeting of the Council of Cardinal Advisers, Cardinal Seán O'Malley announced that Pope Francis had decided to create a commission for the protection of minors to evaluate current programs, propose initiatives, and identify personnel to implement them, "including lay persons, religious and priests with responsibilities for the safety of children, in relations with the victims, in mental health, in the application of the law, etc."[4] Pope Francis created the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and named its first eight members on 22 March 2014. They were tasked with drafting the Commission's statutes to "define its tasks and competencies".[5][a][b]

On 10 September 2014, Father Robert W. Oliver, the chief prosecutor of clergy for sex abuse crimes at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was named the Commission's secretary.[8] On 17 December 2014, Pope Francis added eight members to the Commission, including a second abuse survivor, Peter Saunders, head of a UK-based organization of sexual abuse survivors, and experts from five continents, bringing the total to 17 (the original right, the secretary, and the additional eight), eight of them women.[1][9][10][c] This announcement identified O'Malley as president of the Commission for the first time.[1]

The Commission met for the first time on 6-8 February 2015,[1] and on 8 May released the Commission's statutes,[11] which were dated 21 April 2015.[12]

The statutes declared the Commission "an autonomous institution attached to the Holy See". It was to propose initiatives to promote local responsibility, based on extensive consultations church officials, including local jurisdictions, organizations of religious, and Curial departments. Its maximum membership was set at 18, appointed to three-year terms. The terms of the president and secretary may be renewed. It details the procedures for meetings, setting the Commission's agenda, and delegating questions to work groups. The norms described were given force for three years, at which point the members could propose modifications.[2]

Developments

In 2015, Commission member Marie Collins, former victim of abuse,[13] has criticized the Vatican for failing to sufficiently fund the panel, a problem she claims could jeopardize the commission's work. The commission has been advised to consider raising its own funds to complete the work.[14]

In February 2016, the commission members watched the Oscar-nominated film Spotlight together. The movie dramatizes the 2001 experience of the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative team at the Boston Globe as they uncovered and exposed systematic sex abuse and subsequent cover-ups by clergy and members of the church hierarchy in Boston.[15]

In February 2017, Marie Collins resigned from the commission stating: "there are still men at that level in the church who would resist or hinder work to protect children in 2017, it's just not acceptable".[13][16]

2018 relaunch

Upon the expiration of the members' terms in December 2017, on 17 February 2018 Pope Francis relaunched the commission with major personnel changes. He reappointed O'Malley, Oliver and six other members and adding nine new members, eight men and eight women.[17][18][d] Several of those members of the commission are victims of clerical sexual abuse, but the commission said it would respect their decision not to identify themselves publicly.[17]

Merger

Since 5 June 2022, the Commission has been part of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, operating with its own officials and according to its own norms, as prescribed by the apostolic constitution Praedicate evangelium.[3]

Pope Francis explained that the Commission was placed there because that Dicastery "deals with sexual abuse on the part of members of the clergy" and it was "not possible to have a 'satellite commission', circling around but unattached to the organization chart." He told the members of the Commission: "Someone might think that this could put at risk your freedom of thought and action, or even take away importance from the issue with which you deal. That is not my intention, nor is it my expectation. And I invite you to be watchful that this does not happen."[19] Commission secretary Andrew Small described the relationship as tying the Dicastery's role in "the administration of justice" to the Commission's "focus on safeguarding and protection".[20]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office, enlarged upon their task: "This initial group is now called to work expeditiously to assist in several tasks, including: participating in the deliberations concerning the Commission's final structure; describing the scope of its responsibilities; and developing the names of additional candidates, especially from other continents and countries, who can offer service to the Commission."[6]
  2. ^ In a departure from Vatican practice, the members were listed in alphabetical order without distinguishing between clerical rank or lay status. The eight were:[5][7]
  3. ^ The other seven new members were:[1]
    • Krysten Winter-Green, expert in theology and social work
    • Bill Kilgallon, director of the New Zealand Catholic church's Office for Professional Standards
    • Sister Hermenegild Makoro, secretary general of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference
    • Kathleen McCormack, longtime director of the social services agency of the Diocese of Wollongong
    • Sister Kayula Lesa, Zambian activist against human trafficking, member of the African Forum for Church Social Teaching
    • Gabriel Dy-Liacco, a Filipino who teaches at the Regent University School of Psychology and Counseling in Maryland
    • Rev. Luis Manuel Ali Herrera, Colombian psychologist and professor of pastoral psychology
  4. ^ Those reappointed were: Gabriel Dy-Liacco, Luis Manuel Alí Herrera, who was now an auxiliary bishop of Bogotá, Fr. Hans Zollner, SJ, Prof. Hannah Suchocka, Sister Kayula Lesa, and Sister Hermenegild Makoro.[18] The new members were:[18]
    • Prof. Benyam Dawit Mezmur
    • Sister Arina Gonsalves
    • Neville Owen
    • Sinalelea Fe'ao
    • Myriam Wijlens
    • Prof. Ernesto Caffo
    • Sister Jane Bertelsen
    • Teresa Kettelkamp
    • Nelson Giovanelli Rosendo Dos Santos

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Comunicato della Sala Stampa: Completata la composizione della Commissione per la tutela dei minori, 17.12.2014" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 2022. This Vatican announcement listed O'Malley first as president, then Oliver as secretary. The others followed in alphabetical order.
  2. ^ a b "Statutes of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of minors, 08.05.2015" (Press release). 8 May 2015. Retrieved 2022. The Vatican published Francis' March letter of authorization (chirograph) when it published the Commission's statutes in May.
  3. ^ a b c Pope Francis. "Praedicate Evangelium, sulla Curia Romana e il suo servizio alla Chiesa nel Mondo (19 marzo 2022)". Dicastero per la Comunicazione - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Article 78. Retrieved 2022.
  4. ^ "BRIEFING SULLA RIUNIONE DEL CONSIGLIO DI CARDINALI (GIOVEDÌ 5 DICEMBRE 2013), 05.12.2013" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 2022. Though titled in Italian, this announcement included an English translation.
  5. ^ a b "Comunicato della Sala Stampa: Istituzione della Pontificia Commissione per la Tutela dei Minori" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 22 March 2014. Retrieved 2022. Though titled in Italian, this announcement included an English translation.
  6. ^ "COMMENTO DEL DIRETTORE P. LOMBARDI IN OCCASIONE DELLA PUBBLICAZIONE DEL COMUNICATO SULLA COMMISSIONE PER LA TUTELA DEI MINORI, 22.03.2014" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 22 March 2014. Retrieved 2022. Though titled in Italian, this announcement included an English translation.
  7. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (24 March 2014). "Francis names O'Malley to Vatican antiabuse panel". Crux. Retrieved 2022.
  8. ^ "Pope appoints two U.S. priests to help tackle sexual abuse of minors". Catholic News Service. 10 September 2014. Archived from the original on 10 September 2014. Retrieved 2022.
  9. ^ Glatz, Carol (17 December 2014). "Pope names second abuse survivor, global experts to protection panel". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on 22 December 2014. Retrieved 2022.
  10. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (17 December 2014). "Vatican abuse commission gains second abuse survivor, several women". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2022.
  11. ^ Harris, Elise (8 May 2015). "Statutes for Vatican commission on protection of minors released". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 2022.
  12. ^ "Statutes of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of minors, 08.05.2015" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 21 April 2015. Retrieved 2022. This document includes a letter of authorization (Chirograph) by Pope Francis dated 22 March 2014, and the "Statutes" dated 21 April 2015 over the signature of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State.
  13. ^ a b "Lone survivor on Vatican abuse commission resigns in frustration". National Catholic Reporter. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 2022.
  14. ^ Pope Francis is mulling a proposal on bishop accountability CruxNow, April 20, 2015
  15. ^ Kirschgaessner, Stephanie (5 February 2016). "Pope's commission to protect children watch Oscar-nominated Spotlight". The Guardian. Retrieved 2022.
  16. ^ Povoledo, Elisabetta; Pianigian, Gaia (1 March 2017). "Abuse Victim Quits Vatican Commission, Citing 'Resistance'". New York Times. Retrieved 2022.
  17. ^ a b Wells, Christopher (17 February 2018). "Pope Francis appoints new members to Commission for Protection of Minors". Vatican News.
  18. ^ a b c "Press Release of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, 17.02.2018" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 17 February 2018. Retrieved 2022.
  19. ^ "ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO THE MEMBERS OF THE PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS". Dicastero per la Comunicazione - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 29 April 2022. Retrieved 2022.
  20. ^ Mares, Courtney (29 April 2022). "Cardinal O'Malley defends the independence of the Vatican's safeguarding commission". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 2022.

External links


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