Catholic World News

New pontifical abuse commission: ‘accountability in the Church’ is ‘especially important’

May 05, 2014

The newly formed Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors concluded its initial meeting on May 3 and emphasized the importance of “ensuring accountability in the Church.”

The emphasis on accountability taken by the new panel raised expectations that the Vatican might eventually take action against bishops who had ignored or covered up sex-abuse complaints, and allowed accused priests to remain in active ministry.

“As we begin our service together, we wish to express our heartfelt solidarity with all victims/survivors of sexual abuse as children and vulnerable adults and to share that, from the very beginning of our work, we have adopted the principle that the best interests of a child or vulnerable adult are primary when any decision is made,” the commission members said in a statement released through the Vatican press office.

The advisory commission’s initial discussions “focused on the Commission’s nature and purpose and on expanding the membership to include people from other geographical areas and other areas of expertise,” the statement continued.

The commission said that it would work toward the creation of new statutes, which would be proposed for the Pope's approval, to define its own role more clearly. The group said that it would not handle individual cases, but would suggest policies "assuring accountability and best practice," and would offer suggestions for raising awareness of the abuse problem and the "devastating consequences" of not taking action against abuse.

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  • Posted by: hartwood01 - May. 06, 2014 12:12 AM ET USA

    I despair of ever seeing justice applied to these bishops who ignored,transferred,or sheltered these clerical abusers. I am amazed that pastors keep putting the onus on parents for the lack of vocations. Why would they think we would turn our children over to such people?

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - May. 05, 2014 7:27 AM ET USA

    Yes, by all means accountability. The recent conviction of the former Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester (NH) made headlines around the world for one reason only: No bishop, the "CEO" of all dioceses, has ever seen the inside of prison for what he did (better said, what he failed to do). The buck always seems to stop at the desk of one of their capos like the Granite State's Ed Arsenault. To paraphrase Joe Stiglitz, until bishops are led off in handcuffs, we know there has been no reform.