Msgr. Oliver Urges Greater Church-Civil Society Collaboration to Help Root Out Abuse

Former Vatican Promoter of Justice Speaks to ZENIT About His New Appointment on Commission for Protection of Minors

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Pope Francis today appointed Monsignor Robert W. Oliver, of the Archdiocese of Boston, as the new Secretary for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Until now, the American prelate was Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Monsignor Oliver, known for his “zero tolerance” line against abuses in the Archdiocese of Boston, was appointed by Benedict XVI in December of 2012 as Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as prosecutor in trials related to cases of sexual abuse by clerics. 

Asked by ZENIT about his new appointment, Monsignor Oliver thanked God and also expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis. He explained that, although “in a certain sense” he was coordinator of the Commission, he was “not so officially.” He saw the importance of individuals of different continents forming part of the Commission, because the problem changes a lot from place to place, and he “hoped that there would be other appointments.”

The Commission does not have its own office yet and, up to now, has been meeting in the Saint Martha residence. “We hope to have another meeting on October 3, with new appointments and, perhaps, have our own office,” he said.

Monsignor Oliver explained: “The work must be done in the local churches. We here, in the Vatican, can only help them.” The objective is, precisely, “the protection of minors through the best practice.” In this connection, he pointed out that “many things have been done in the local churches of the United States, and we want to do them also in Africa, America, etc.,” because, he added, “we can exchange our experiences among the different continents” and this “is very important.”

Monsignor Oliver pointed out that the Commission for the Protection of Minors is not involved in the trials of the clerics who committed abuses because “this is always the job of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

He said Benedict XVI carried out an important change in the strategy against abuses and that Pope Francis is determined to follow that line. He also noted that public opinion “is understanding that the Church is working in many sectors and not only in the juridical,” adding that “we have done a lot in the last 20 years. Things have changed very much.”

And although the Church has taken very important steps, he said that in other sectors of society more can be done. “We can collaborate, do joint projects with all: schools, associations, institutions and those who work with children.” So, to the endeavor to purify the Church from this wound, prevention must now be increased and society must be helped to prevent these crimes.


On ZENIT’s webpage:

Pope Appoints New Promoter of Justice

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Sergio Mora

Buenos Aires, Argentina Estudios de periodismo en el Istituto Superiore di Comunicazione de Roma y examen superior de italiano para extranjeros en el Instituto Dante Alighieri de Roma. Periodista profesional de la Associazione Stampa Estera en Italia, y publicista de la Orden de periodistas de Italia. Fue corresponsal adjunto del diario español El País de 2000 a 2004, colaborador de los programas en español de la BBC y de Radio Vaticano. Fue director del mensual Expreso Latino, realizó 41 programas en Sky con Babel TV. Actualmente además de ser redactor de ZENIT colabora con diversos medios latinoamericanos.

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