The president of the papal commission for the protection of children has stressed that victims of abuse must always come first. Boston Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley made remarks at a seminar on child protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
This is the basic principle of the commission; otherwise you will fail, said O'Malley according to the press service SIR (Thursday) in Rome. After accusations of lack of cooperation by Vatican authorities, the Irish abuse victim Marie Collins recently left the Pontifical Commission for Child Protection. This means that the now 16-member body no longer includes a victim. The second victim member, Briton Peter Saunders, had announced time off in February 2016 to reflect on his involvement; this continues to this day.
"Only the survivors can help us. We must not be lenient in our work and we must learn from experience and from our mistakes," O'Malley stressed. At the same time, he emphasized that abuse is not a specifically Catholic or clerical problem. Sexual abuse by priests, however, leads to even deeper wounds, he said.
"Eradicate sexual abuse"
"The Catholic world demands that we, its shepherds, take all steps to protect the children entrusted to our care," O'Malley said. Pope Francis has also emphasized this several times and is working seriously to "eradicate sexual abuse in the church," he said.
The seminar was entitled "Protective measures at home and at school: learning from experiences worldwide". It was organized by the Gregorian-based Center for Child Protection in collaboration with the Pontifical Commission for Child Protection.