Members of the Vatican Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) said they are encouraged by the August 20, 2018, “Letter to the People of God” issued by Pope Francis. The members commented in a statement reported in Vatican News.
The statement notes “his strong words recognizing the pain and suffering endured by people who have suffered sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by some members of the church. Members of the Commission feel supported by the Holy Father’s call…to ‘implement zero tolerance.”
The PCPM said that they heard reinforced in Pope Francis’ letter their own message that “zero tolerance and accountability are a pre-requisite in safeguarding vulnerable people from abuse”.
Commission member and canon lawyer Prof. Myriam Wijlens noted three key points in the Pope’s letter:
- “connection between sexual abuse, abuse of power and abuse of conscience”
abuse of power has two levels: “There are those who use their position to sexually abuse minors and vulnerable adults and…those in leadership positions” who cover the abuse up.
- a looking backward approach consisting of “asking for pardon and seeking repair” is not sufficient. The approach that looks forward “implies asking for a radical change of culture where the safety of children enjoys top priority”.