Home » Posts tagged 'Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors'

Pope Francis admits mistake in approving lenient sanctions against priest abuser

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has endorsed an approach of “zero tolerance” toward all members of the church guilty of sexually abusing minors or vulnerable adults.

U.S. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, is president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Pope Francis address the commission this week and called Cardinal O’Malley a “prophet” in the church who has come forward to shine light on the problem of abuse and to urge the church to face it.(CNS /Paul Haring)

Having listened to abuse survivors and having made what he described as a mistake in approving a more lenient set of sanctions against an Italian priest abuser, the pope said he has decided whoever has been proven guilty of abuse has no right to an appeal, and he will never grant a papal pardon.

“Why? Simply because the person who does this (sexually abuses minors) is sick. It is a sickness,” he told his advisory commission on child protection during an audience at the Vatican Sept. 21. Members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, including its president, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, were meeting in Rome Sept. 21-23 for their plenary assembly.

Setting aside his prepared text, the pope said he wanted to speak more informally to the members, who include lay and religious experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, theology and law in relation to abuse and protection.

The Catholic Church has been “late” in facing and, therefore, properly addressing the sin of sexual abuse by its members, the pope said, and the commission, which he established in 2014, has had to “swim against the tide” because of a lack of awareness or understanding of the seriousness of the problem.

“When consciousness comes late, the means for resolving the problem comes late,” he said. “I am aware of this difficulty. But it is the reality: We have arrived late.”

“Perhaps,” he said, “the old practice of moving people” from one place to another and not fully facing the problem “lulled consciences to sleep.”

But, he said, “prophets in the church,” including Cardinal O’Malley, have, with the help of God, come forward to shine light on the problem of abuse and to urge the church to face it.

Typically when the church has had to deal with new or newly emerging problems, it has turned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to address the issue, he said. And then, only when the problem has been dealt with adequately does the process for dealing with future cases get handed over to another dicastery, he added.

Because the problem of cases and allegations of abuse are “grave” and because it also is grave that some have not adequately taken stock of the problem, it is important the doctrinal congregation continue to handle the cases, rather than turning them over directly to Vatican tribunals, as some have suggested.

However, he said, the doctrinal congregation will need more personnel to work on cases of abuse in order to expedite the “many cases that do not proceed” with the backlog.

Pope Francis told commission members he wants to better balance the membership of the doctrinal team dealing with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. He said the majority of members are canon lawyers, and he would like to balance out their more legalistic approach with more members who are diocesan bishops and have had to deal with abuse in their diocese.

He also said proof that an ordained minister has abused a minor “is sufficient (reason) to receive no recourse” for an appeal. “If there is proof. End of story,” the pope said; the sentence “is definitive.”

And, he added, he has never and would never grant a papal pardon to a proven perpetrator.

The reasoning has nothing to do with being mean-spirited, but because an abuser is sick and is suffering from “a sickness.”

The pope told the commission he has been learning “on the job” better ways to handle priests found guilty of abuse, and he recounted a decision he has now come to regret: that of agreeing to a more lenient sanction against an Italian priest, rather than laicizing him as the doctrinal team recommended.

Two years later, the priest abused again, and Pope Francis said he has since learned “it’s a terrible sickness: that requires a different approach.

     

Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

Comments Off on Pope Francis admits mistake in approving lenient sanctions against priest abuser

Cardinal calls alleged Vatican resistance to child protection a ‘cliché’

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s doctrinal chief dismissed accusations that some Vatican officials are resisting recommendations on best practices for protecting children and vulnerable adults from clergy sex abuse.

Marie Collins of Ireland, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, is pictured in a 2014 photo. Collins was one of the founding members and the last remaining abuse survivor on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. She left her position over what she described as resistance in Vatican offices against implementing recommendations for protecting people from abuse. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz) See VATICAN-ABUSE-RESIGNATION-COLLINS March 1, 2017..

Marie Collins of Ireland, above, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse,resigned her post on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minor March 1, citing what she called resistance from Vatican offices. Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has dismissed the accusation as a cliché.(CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

“I think this cliché must be put to an end: the idea that the pope, who wants the reform, is on one side and, on the other, a group of resisters who want to block it,” said Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The congregation is charged with carrying out canonical trials and seeking justice for victims of clerical abuse, while local bishops and heads of religious orders must care for their pastoral needs, he said in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, published March 5.

Cardinal Muller responded to complaints made by Marie Collins, who resigned her post on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors March 1, citing what she described as resistance coming from Vatican offices against implementing recommendations.

In an editorial published online March 1 by National Catholic Reporter, Collins said an unnamed dicastery not only refused to cooperate on the commission’s safeguarding guidelines, but also refused to respond to letters from victims.

Collins said the refusal “to implement one of the simplest recommendations the commission has put forward to date” was the last straw that led to her resignation.

While acknowledging that personal care of victims is important, Cardinal Muller said Collins’ accusations “are based on a misunderstanding” and that bishops and religious superiors “who are closer” to victims of clergy sex abuse are charged with their pastoral care.

“When a letter arrives, we always ask the bishop that he take pastoral care of the victim, clarifying that the congregation will do everything possible to do justice. It is a misunderstanding that this dicastery, in Rome,” can be aware of everything happening in all the dioceses and religious orders in the world, the cardinal said.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he added, “acts as the supreme apostolic tribunal” on matters dealing with clerical abuse.

“All our collaborators humanly suffer with the victims of abuse. Our task is to do everything possible to do justice and avoid further crimes,” he said.

Through the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the cardinal said, Pope Francis “wished to offer an exemplary service” as a help for the church and the world in dealing with the scourge of child sex abuse.

“Pedophilia is monstrous crime as well as a grave sin. We must remember Jesus’ words to the children and his condemnation against those who harm them,” Cardinal Muller said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on Cardinal calls alleged Vatican resistance to child protection a ‘cliché’

Vatican commission launches child protection website

By

VATICAN CITY — The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has launched a beta version of its website in English and has included its template for local guidelines on preventing sexual abuse, resources for a day of prayer for the victims and survivors as well as a mailing address to contact commission members.

The website — www.protectionofminors.va — eventually will include versions in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French, the commission said in a statement Dec. 6.

Pope Francis’ international Council of Cardinals identified the protection of children and young adults as one of the church’s priority needs and suggested in December 2013 that he create a commission to advise him and assist dioceses and religious orders around the world in drawing up guidelines, handling accusations and ministering to victims and survivors.

Pope Francis named the first members three months later and appointed as president Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston.

Comments Off on Vatican commission launches child protection website

Talk to new bishops does not change guidelines on abuse, Vatican says

By

 

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A talk given to new bishops during a Vatican-sponsored course does not represent new guidelines on the church’s response to abuse against minors by religious, a Vatican spokesman said.

In this 2013 file photo, St. Peter's Basilica is reflected in a puddle of water at the Vatican. (CNS/photo Alessandro Di Meo, EPA)

In this 2013 file photo, St. Peter’s Basilica is reflected in a puddle of water at the Vatican. (CNS/photo Alessandro Di Meo, EPA)

A 44-page report authored by French Msgr. Tony Anatrella and just published by the Vatican publishing house “is not in any way — as someone erroneously interpreted — a new Vatican document or a new instruction or new guidelines for bishops,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said in a written statement released late Feb. 11.

The talk was part of a conference of experts given in September and was “published together with other (talks) on different subjects,” Father Lombardi wrote.

Msgr. Anatrella’s talk addressed emotional maturity and deviant behaviors in the priesthood as well as church procedures for dealing with accusations of the abuse of children by clergy.

The monsignor, a psychoanalyst and a consultant to the pontifical councils for the family and for health care ministry, “does not say anything new or different from what has been said up until now by relevant church institutions,” Father Lombardi said.

The Vatican recently released the speeches, homilies and reflections from last year’s course in a book, “Witnesses of the Risen One.” The texts were published only in the original language in which they were delivered. Since 2001, all newly ordained bishops serving in dioceses that report to the Congregation for Bishops have been obliged to come to Rome in September for an eight- or nine-day course for new bishops.

Some media outlets reported that Msgr. Anatrella’s talk, written in French, said bishops are not obligated to report accusations of abuse to authorities.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith mandated in a 2011 letter that in every nation and region, bishops should have clear and coordinated procedures for protecting children, assisting victims of abuse, dealing with accused priests, training clergy and cooperating with civil authorities.

Describing sexual abuse of minors as “a crime prosecuted by civil law,” the doctrinal congregation said bishops should follow local laws that require reporting cases of sexual abuse to police. Not all countries mandate the reporting of abuse cases to police, however.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors reaffirmed that beyond the mandates of civil law, all members of the church “have a moral and ethical responsibility to report suspected abuse to the civil authorities who are charged with protecting our society.”

U.S. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, president of papal commission, issued the written statement Feb. 15, quoting Pope Francis, who said Sept. 27 that “the crimes and sins of the sexual abuse of children must not be kept secret for any longer. I pledge the zealous vigilance of the church to protect children and the promise of accountability for all.”

Cardinal O’Malley reiterated the commission’s willingness to provide educational resources not only to new bishops during their annual course in Rome, but also to all offices at the Vatican “for their use in their own child protection efforts.”

The U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” – first adopted in 2002 and revised in 2005 and 2011, outlined how the church leaders would provide a safe environment for children and young people in church-sponsored activities. It established uniform procedures for handling sex-abuse allegations and adopted a “zero tolerance” policy. It also required background checks and training in child protection for church employees and required dioceses facing allegations made about priests or other church workers to alert authorities, conduct an investigation and remove the accused person from duty.

Newly appointed bishops in the United States also receive two training sessions, which “clearly and explicitly” underline the obligation to report suspected abuse to public authorities, Cardinal O’Malley said in the papal commission’s written statement.

Last June, Pope Francis also approved new procedures for the Vatican’s doctrinal office to investigate and judge claims of “abuse of office” by bishops who allegedly failed to protect minors and vulnerable adults from sex abuse.

In the portion of his talk on a bishop’s responsibility concerning abuse accusations against one of his priests, Msgr. Anatrella reiterated directives requiring bishops to open a canonical investigation as soon as possible into alleged abuses in order to “establish the truth of the facts.”

After spelling out mandated church procedures concerning such crimes, he also underlined the church’s call to bishops to follow local laws.

The monsignor said that in countries where reporting was mandatory, it was “not necessarily up to” the bishop to report to civil authorities as soon as he has learned of an accusation, but up to the alleged victim and/or the family.

Nevertheless, the monsignor wrote, the bishop always possesses “the faculty” of reporting “in good conscience” the abuse if necessary to civil authorities based on how serious the situation is.

Given the new powers of the Vatican’s doctrinal office to investigate and penalize bishops for failing to protect minors, the monsignor added that bishops have to be able to prove they acted upon learning of alleged abuse, investigated allegations and sanctioned those found guilty according to church laws.

“The bishops must be able to prove that he has tried something without being lax in order to neutralize the acts of the abuser” with canonical procedures, he wrote. The bishop will be disciplined, not because of how the investigation turned out, but for a failure to act to protect victims from assault by someone under his authority, he wrote.

In an interview Feb. 12 with the French news agency iMedia, Msgr. Anatrella said: “For the church, it is obvious that there must be cooperation between church tribunals and police and judicial authorities” concerning the crime of abuse.

He also clarified his remark about the obligation falling first to victims and families, not necessarily bishops, to report abuse in countries where reporting is mandatory.

“I said in this paragraph that the bishop or his representative will first encourage the minor-victim and his or her family to file a complaint with the police. If they do not, then it is up to the church authority to make a report,” he told the news agency.

Comments Off on Talk to new bishops does not change guidelines on abuse, Vatican says

Commission on sex abuse votes that member take leave of absence

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The papal commission on child protection voted that one of its members, a survivor of abuse and victims’advocate, take a leave of absence and consider other ways to contribute to the advisory body.

Peter Saunders, founder and chief executive officer of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, told reporters, however, that he would not leave his position on the commission.

“I was appointed by His Holiness Pope Francis and I will talk only with him about my position,” he said Feb. 6.

Pope Francis established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2014 to recommend better ways to protect minors and vulnerable adults and how best to promote “local responsibility in the particular churches” concerning abuse perpetrated by members of the clergy.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, confirmed Feb. 8 that the 17-person commission, which includes another abuse survivor, “approved unanimously with one abstention” that Saunders take a leave of absence to think about other ways to help the commission externally.

U.S. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the pontifical commission and one of the pope’s top cardinal advisers, said in a written statement, “Peter Saunders has been asked to advise the commission on the possible establishment of a victim survivor panel to work with the commission.”

Saunders told the Associated Press Feb. 6 that the members concluded they could not trust him to stick to the commission’s mandate as a purely advisory body.

Father Lombardi told reporters Feb. 8 that it was clear the commission’s “course of action is not undertaking a discussion, investigation, judging individual cases” of abuse or lack of accountability.

Saunders has been openly critical of Pope Francis and other top-level church leaders and of the slow pace of the commission’s work when it came to bishops’ accountability in acting upon suspected and known instances of abuse by priests.

He and a group of Chilean Catholics and clerics have voiced particular concern about the pope’s nomination of Bishop Juan Barros in 2015 to the Diocese of Osorno, Chile. The bishop had been accused of covering up for a priest who was known to have committed sexual abuse. Bishop Barros, however, denied having had knowledge of Father Fernando Karadima’s criminal behavior, prior to news about the abuse in the press.

The papal commission, meanwhile, released a press release Feb. 8 saying it was preparing the final version of proposals to make to the pope, including “a request for him to remind all authorities in the church of the importance of responding directly to victims and survivors who approach them.’ Members also were working on a recommendation for a universal day of prayer for abuse victims and preparing materials for a special penitential liturgy.

The commission also is developing a website to share best practices for protecting minors, and “workshops on the legal aspects of the protection of minors to establish more transparency around canonical trials” are being planned for later in the year.

Comments Off on Commission on sex abuse votes that member take leave of absence

Pope OKs plan to investigate, judge bishops who fail to act on abuse

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has approved new procedures for the Vatican to investigate and judge claims of “abuse of office” by bishops who allegedly failed to protect minors and vulnerable adults from sex abuse.

The procedures will include a new “judicial section” within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that has a papal mandate to “judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors,” the Vatican said in a written statement June 10.

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 10. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 10. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The announcement came at the end of a series of consultations the pope had with his international Council of Cardinals, which met at the Vatican June 8-10.

U.S. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, a member of the so-called C9 group of cardinal advisers and president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, presented to the council and the pope a number of proposals for greater accountability of bishops in dealing with cases of clerical sexual abuse.

Originally prepared by the protection commission, the proposals were later expanded and given unanimous approval by the Council of Cardinals and the pope June 8, the Vatican said.

While the Code of Canon Law already stipulates that bishops hold certain responsibilities, there had been no permanent system or trained staff to deal with reporting, evaluating and judging claims that a bishop had failed to fulfill his responsibilities linked to handling suspected and known cases of sex abuse, said a source familiar with the discussion.

Previously, the Congregation of Bishops would send out a different ad hoc group to investigate each case, the source added.

Now a specific “procedure is defined for how to deal with these cases,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters.

The new process also means people who want to make a claim, and anyone can do so, will know more clearly whom to go to if a serious crime of negligence is suspected, the source told Catholic News Service.

Cardinal O’Malley gave the council and Pope Francis a full report about the proposed procedures, but the Vatican released only a list of the “five specific proposals made to the Holy Father,” which subsequently received his full approval and can be considered to have gone into effect.

The Vatican statement said the three Curia offices that have oversight of the world’s bishops, the congregations for Bishops, for the Evangelization of Peoples and for Eastern Churches, were now authorized “to receive and investigate complaints of the episcopal abuse of office.”

“There is the duty to report all complaints to the appropriate congregation,” it said.

The pope mandated the doctrinal congregation be in charge of judicial procedures regarding charges of “abuse of office” and that it establish a special section with the proper staff and resources to carry out its work.

The pope was to appoint a secretary of the new judicial section and to authorize the appointment of the personnel needed for “penal processes regarding the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy.”

The pope still would have to approve the removal of a bishop from office if he was found by the tribunal to have been negligent in his duties, Father Lombardi said.

The new procedures will be reviewed in five years and may be amended, the statement said.

 

Comments Off on Pope OKs plan to investigate, judge bishops who fail to act on abuse

Sex abuse panel members discuss Chilean bishop’s appointment with cardinal

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Four lay members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors met with one of Pope Francis’ top cardinal advisers at the Vatican April 12 to voice their concerns about the appointment of a Chilean bishop, accused of covering up for an abusive priest.

The four said in a written statement the same day that Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, who is also the protection commission’s president, “agreed to present their concerns to the Holy Father” about the nomination of Bishop Juan Barros to the Diocese of Osorno, Chile.

The bishop had been accused of covering up for a priest who was known to have committed sexual abuse. Bishop Barros, however, denied having had knowledge of Father Fernando Karadima’s criminal behavior, prior to news about the abuse in the press.

Commission member Marie Collins from Ireland expressed her satisfaction with their discussion at the Vatican, posting on her Twitter feed April 13 that she was “heading home after a good meeting” with Cardinal O’Malley.

The three other members of the 17-person commission at the 30-minute meeting included Peter Saunders, Dr. Catherine Bonnet and Baroness Sheila Hollins. Collins and Saunders are both survivors of clerical sex abuse.

“Although we are not charged with dealing with individual cases, the protection of minors is our primary concern,” the four members said in their statement. “The process of appointing bishops who are committed to and have an understanding of child protection is of paramount importance.”

Bishops, they said, must be able to “enact effective policies” on sex abuse and “carefully monitor compliance.”

The commission members had scheduled their meeting with Cardinal O’Malley to coincide with his arrival in Rome for another weeklong session of the nine-member Council of Cardinals, set to start April 13.

 

Comments Off on Sex abuse panel members discuss Chilean bishop’s appointment with cardinal

Vatican says no reason found to ‘preclude’ Chilean bishop’s appointment

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The appointment of a controversial bishop in Chile was made after a careful review found no “objective reasons” to prevent Bishop Juan Barros from taking over the Diocese of Osorno, the Vatican press office said.

The bishop had been accused of covering up for a priest who was known to have committed sexual abuse; some 3,000 demonstrators gathered outside and inside the Osorno cathedral March 21 to protest his installation as bishop.

“The Congregation for Bishops carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment,” said the Vatican’s March 31 statement.

The protesters claimed Bishop Barros was complicit in the case of Father Fernando Karadima, who the Vatican in 2011 found guilty of sexually abusing minors and ordered to “retire to a life of prayer and penitence.”

Bishop Barros denied having any knowledge of Father Karadima’s crimes.

Still, several lay members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors criticized his appointment to Osorno and expressed their concern.

 

Comments Off on Vatican says no reason found to ‘preclude’ Chilean bishop’s appointment

Abuse survivor says new Vatican panel must achieve real change

By

Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — The lone clerical abuse survivor nominated by Pope Francis to sit on the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said the commission needs to achieve concrete change in order to “show other survivors that the church is going to get it right.”

Marie Collins, who was abused by a chaplain as a sick 13-year-old at Crumlin hospital in Dublin in the 1960s, told Catholic News Service that many survivors will be watching the new Vatican commission “with interest, but many will have written it off as merely a PR exercise.”

Irish abuse victim Marie Collins, left, who was assaulted as a 13-year-old by a hospital chaplain in her native Ireland, attends a 2012 vigil in Rome. Collins is the lone clerical abuse survivor nominated by Pope Francis to sit on the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

“Survivors will not be satisfied with more words or promises, they need to see real change,” she said.

Collins, who campaigns on behalf of abuse victims, said her priority is “a strong worldwide child protection policy which would include sanctions for any member of the church in a position of authority who ignored these rules.”

She added that too many bishops who have protected abusive priests have been allowed to remain in place undisciplined.

“I would like to see the way survivors and their families have been treated change. The concentration on often-abusive legalistic responses instead of caring for those hurt needs to end,” she said.

The cultural attitude within the church and laws that “categorized child abuse as a moral lapse rather than a criminal offense also have to be tackled,” she told CNS.

The Dubliner is seeking greater transparency because “the secrecy of the past led to enormous failures.”

The initial eight members of the commission will be free to decide what issues they are going to deal with, how they are going to work and who else will join the commission, Collins told CNS.

Though it is in its early stages, she said her understanding is that the commission will make its recommendations directly to Pope Francis and will not communicate through any Vatican departments.

Asked who else she would like to see on the new commission, she told CNS she would like to see Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin because he “is the template for how child protection should be handled at ground level,” and also Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, who really “got it” when it came to addressing clerical sexual abuse.

Collins told CNS that she met another commission member, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, in 2011 as he led the Vatican investigation of the Archdiocese of Dublin and was “very impressed with his openness and his ability to listen.”

She also worked with another member of the commission, Baroness Sheila Hollins, during the Toward Healing Symposium at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 2012.

“I feel we worked very well together. She is very devoted to the cause of the vulnerable adult and has great expertise in this field. I am looking forward to working with Cardinal Sean and Baroness Hollins.”

However, Collins said she was “disappointed” listening to Pope Francis’ recent comments when he said no one has done more on the issue of child sexual abuse than the church, and yet the church is the only one to be attacked.

[“He seemed to miss the point that the huge anger directed at the Catholic Church has not been caused by the fact it had abusers in its ranks but by the unique situation whereby those in authority were willing to protect these men. This has been shown in inquiry after inquiry around the world,” she told CNS.

She said it was up to the new Vatican commission to change the pope’s mind on this.

Asked what it means to have a survivor on the commission, Collins said in the past there had been a fear of survivors and “an inability to handle their justified anger.”

At other times, survivors were seen as people who could be placated by words of apology but this “underestimated the damage done to lives and the hurt and anger and thirst for justice that so many survivors feel.”

“In this context it is a big step for the church to include a survivor on the commission, but a very necessary one,” she commented.

She has already been contacted by many survivors and survivor groups from various parts of the world. The majority responded positively, wanting her to take their particular concerns to the commission. She said some have suggested that she is a “token survivor” appointed just to give the church good public relations.

“I have remained a Catholic but not without much difficulty and struggle,” she told CNS. “There have been periods when practicing my faith has been impossible. I have tried to separate the institution of the church from the faith. My belief in God has never wavered. Being appointed to the commission has not changed anything in this regard.”

 

 

Comments Off on Abuse survivor says new Vatican panel must achieve real change

Boston cardinal, abuse survivor named to Vatican panel on protecting minors

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, four women— including a survivor of clerical sex abuse — two Jesuit priests and an Italian lawyer are the first eight members of the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Pope Francis established the commission in December; announcing the first members March 22, the Vatican said they would help define the tasks and competencies of the commission and help identify other potential members.

Irish abuse victim Marie Collins has been named to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. CNS/Reuters

Cardinal O’Malley is also one of eight members of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on the reform of the Roman Curia and governance of the church. When the child protection commission was announced, Cardinal O’Malley told reporters it would take a pastoral approach to helping victims and preventing abuse, given that much of the Vatican’s attention thus far had been on implementing policies and legal procedures for investigating allegations of abuse and punishing guilty priests.

The cardinal said the commission would look at programs to educate pastoral workers in signs of abuse, identify means of psychological testing and other ways of screening candidates for the priesthood, and make recommendations regarding church officials’ “cooperation with the civil authorities, the reporting of crimes.”

The first eight members of the commission include Marie Collins, who was born in Dublin. At the age of 13, she was sexually abused by a Catholic priest who was a chaplain at a hospital where she was a patient.

Addressing a major conference in Rome in 2012 on the protection of children, she said being abused led to depression, despair and deep loss of trust in the Catholic Church. “Those fingers that would abuse my body the night before, were the same fingers that would give me holy Communion the following day,” she said.

In 1997, the priest that had abused her, and other young girls over a period of three decades, was finally brought to justice. She founded an organization to help victims of sexual abuse, worked with the Archdiocese of Dublin to set up its child protection office and helped draft the child protection policies of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the commission would take “a multi-pronged approach to promoting youth protection, including: education regarding the exploitation of children; discipline of offenders; civil and canonical duties and responsibilities; and the development of best practices as they have emerged in society at large.”

“In this way, and with the help of God, this commission will contribute to the Holy Father’s mission of upholding the sacred responsibility of ensuring the safety of young people,” Father Lombardi said.

Jesuit Fathers Hans Zollner and Humberto Yanez, who also were appointed to the commission, were instrumental in organizing the 2012 conference where Collins addressed representatives of bishops’ conferences and religious orders from around the world.

Father Zollner, a German psychologist and psychotherapist, chaired the committee that organized the conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University and is chairman of the steering committee of the Center for Child Protection that developed out of the conference. Father Yanez, director of the moral theology department at the Gregorian, was a member of the conference’s theological board.

Meeting reporters in 2013 to discuss follow-up to the conference, Father Zollner said: “Unfortunately, the matter will be with us for a long time. The church is working much more than people know, but is also the object of criticism because of its errors, its failures and the sins of the past. This is why it is extremely important to continue the work of prevention with every available means.”

In addition to Collins, the other women on the commission are: Hanna Suchocka, a former professor of law, who served as prime minister of Poland, 1992-93, and Polish ambassador to the Vatican, 2001-13; Catherine Bonnet, a French child psychiatrist specializing in helping victims of incest; and Baroness Sheila Hollins, a mental health specialist who has focused her research on people with learning disabilities.

The eighth member of the commission is Claudio Papale, an Italian who holds degrees in both civil and canon law and works in disciplinary section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The office is responsible for investigating allegations against priests.

 

Comments Off on Boston cardinal, abuse survivor named to Vatican panel on protecting minors
Marquee Powered By Know How Media.