Pope Francis has designated the members of the organizing committee for the meeting on the protection of minors in the Church, to be held in the Vatican from February 21-24, 2019. The names were released on November 23, 2018, in a communique from the Vatican Press Office.
“The February meeting is unprecedented and one that shows Pope Francis has made the protection of minors a fundamental priority for the Church,” said Vatican Press Director Greg Burke. “This is about keeping children safe from harm worldwide. Pope Francis wants Church leaders to have a full understanding of the devastating impact that clerical sexual abuse has on victims.
“The meeting is primarily one for bishops – and they have much of the responsibility for this grave problem. But lay men and women who are experts in the field of abuse will give their input and can help address especially what needs to done to ensure transparency and accountability.”
The organizing committee members named are: Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and President of the Bishops’ Conference of India; the Most Reverend Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta and Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and the Reverend Hans Zollner, S.J., President of the Centre for the Protection of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, whom he has named contact person for the committee.
In an interview published on November 23 by Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano, Fr. Zollner said the meeting in February is important, “very important for the Church”.
‘We must do everything that we can, as the Holy Father said in his letter to the People of God ‘to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated’, Fr. Zollner said. “Organizing the meeting well will help to put together the analysis, the awareness, the shame, the repentance, prayer, and discernment regarding actions to be undertaken and decisions to be made in justice and in truth.”
Taking part in the February meeting, at which His Holiness will be present, will be the Heads of the Oriental Catholic Churches; the Superiors of the Secretariat of State; the Prefects of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the Oriental Churches, for Bishops, for the Evangelization of Peoples, for the Clergy, for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, and of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life; the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences; and representatives of the Union of Superiors General and of the International Union of Superiors General.
Involved in the preparatory work for the meeting will be, among others, Dr Gabriella Gambino, Undersecretary for the Section for Life, and Dr Linda Ghisoni, Undersecretary for the Section for the Lay Faithful, of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life; the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and some victims of abuse by members of the clergy.