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Safeguarding commission targets those who cover up abuse
06 May 2014 11:54 by Elena Curti

Bishops who fail to protect children will be made accountable for their actions, according to Cardinal Sean O’Malley who heads the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors told journalists on 3 May.

Cardinal O’Malley said the commission is concerned that everybody should be held accountable for their actions, including those who abuse and those who have oversight of them.

“In the suggestions for protocols that we hope to develop we will address how these should include everybody. We want to have very clear and transparent ways of dealing with accountability both in those who perpetuate the crime of sexual abuse and those who are negligent in child protection,” said Cardinal O’Malley.

The cardinal was speaking at a press conference following the commission’s inaugural meeting which met 1-3 May. He was also concerned that many people did not see child abuse as a problem of the universal Church.

"In some people's minds, 'Oh, this is an American problem, it's an Irish problem, it's a German problem,'" said Cardinal O’Malley. "Well, it's a human problem, and the Church needs to face it everywhere in the world. And so a lot of our recommendations are going to have to be around education, because there is so much ignorance around this topic, so much denial."

Asked about a recent statement by the Italian Bishops' Conference, which pointed out that mandatory reporting of abusers to the police is not required under Italian law, Cardinal O’Malley that the moral obligation was more important than the legal one in such cases.

Pope Francis met the eight members of the commission which include four women, one of whom is an abuse survivor from Ireland, Marie Collins. Ms Collins said that while it was early days she felt very positive about the start the commission had made.

Above: Ms Collins and Cardinal O'Malley. Photo: CNS