On Saturday, the Holy See announced that Pope Francis has named the members of the newly created Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The commission was first announced by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who is a member of the Council of Cardinals, also known as the G8.
The members of the new pontifical commission are:
– 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, Archbishop of Boston and Member of the Council of Cardinals;
– 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 then Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis);
and 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.
Commenting on the announcement, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that the establishment of the commission is a reaffirmation of the Pope’s and his predecessors’ commitment to prevent abuses from happening again.
“Pope Francis has made clear that the Church must hold the protection of minors amongst Her highest priorities,” he wrote.
“This initial group is now called to work expeditiously to assist in several tasks, including: participating in the deliberations concerning the Commission’s final structure; describing the scope of its responsibilities; and developing the names of additional candidates, especially from other continents and countries, who can offer service to the Commission.”
Fr. Lombardi stated that the Commission will take a “multi-pronged” approach in promoting the protection of minors. Among the initiatives will be education on the exploitation of children and discipline of offenders.
“In this way, and with the help of God, this Commission will contribute to the Holy Father’s mission of upholding the sacred responsibility of ensuring the safety of young people,” Fr. Lombardi concluded. (J.A.E.)