Cardinal O'Malley (l.), chairman of the papal commission for the protection of children, in conversation with Pope Francis © Paul Haring (CBA)
The current debate over sexual abuse in the Catholic Church was the topic of discussion by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children at its recent plenary session. What has emerged in concrete terms?
Attention to the abuse cases must be used as an opportunity to mobilize the public more strongly for prevention, a press release concluded.
The church must develop its response to the abuse crisis from listening to victims, according to Pope Francis' request. The meeting of the international commission of experts, led by U.S. Cardinal Sean O'Connor, was held in Rome from Friday to Sunday.
According to the release, the 17-member panel also heard testimony from a victim of sexual misconduct by a cleric and a mother of two abused children. The deliberations also focused on a pilot project in Brazil to ensure safe spaces and transparent procedures for people affected by abuse.
Further meetings and congresses planned
Meetings for church superiors in Central-Eastern Europe and for bishops and formators in Brazil are planned for April 2019, according to the commission. Furthermore, members of the Vatican expert group are scheduled to address the Council of Latin American Bishops' Conferences in Mexico in November 2019 and to co-chair a 2020 child protection congress in Colombia.
The papal commission on child protection was established in March 2014. Its German member is the Jesuit Hans Zollner, a theologian and psychologist who also directs a child protection center at the pontifical university.