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Pope Francis institutes Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

March 24, 2014

Pope Francis has instituted the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The body’s creation was announced in December following a meeting of the Council of Cardinals, the eight-member group that advises and assists in the Pope in the governance of the universal Church.

“Continuing the work undertaken by his predecessors, and having heard the advice of a number of cardinals, other members of the College of Bishops, and experts in the field, and having duly deliberated, Pope Francis now is forming a commission for the safeguarding of minors,” said Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See Press Office. “Pope Francis has made clear that the Church must hold the protection of minors among her highest priorities.”

The members of the new pontifical commission include

  • Catherine Bonnet, a French child psychiatrist who works with sexually abused children
  • Marie Collins, an Irish abuse victim
  • Baroness Sheila Hollins, a member of the House of Lords and former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Medical Association
  • Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston
  • Claudio Papale, a lay canon lawyer who works with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on abuse cases
  • Hanna Suchocka, who has served as Poland’s prime minister (1992-93), minister of justice (1997-2000), and ambassador to the Holy See (2001-13)
  • Father Humberto Miguel Yañez, an Argentine Jesuit moral theologian and former student of the future Pope Francis
  • Father Hans Zollner, a German Jesuit who serves as chairman of the steering committee of the Center for Child Protection of the Institute of Psychology at the Pontifical Gregorian University

At the present time, the “principal role” of the commission’s initial members, according to a statement from the Holy See Press Office, will be “to prepare the statutes of the commission, which will define its tasks and competencies.”

“Certain that the Church has a critical role to play in this field, and looking to the future without forgetting the past, the commission will take a multipronged 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,” added Father Lombardi.

Vatican officials said that in naming the first members of the commission, the Pope had chosen mainly Europeans so that it would be easier to schedule meetings.


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