01 May 2014, The Tablet

Francis to greet Vatican's abuse and safeguarding commission

The Vatican commission to advise on safeguarding and abuse issues has met for the first time today in Rome.

Pope Francis was due to meet members of the Commission for the Protection of Minors at the start of its three-day meeting today at the Domus Sancta Marthae. The first meeting is expected to determine its scope and function.

The eight-member Commission, which was appointed in March, is comprised of five laypeople, four of them women.

It includes Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of clerical abuse who has campaigned vigorously on behalf of fellow victims. Another member is Baroness (Sheila) Hollins, a British psychiatrist and life peer who with Ms Collins took part in a groundbreaking symposium at the Gregorian University in Rome on child sexual abuse in 2012. Poland’s former Prime Minister and Ambassador to the Holy See, Hanna Suchocka, and French child psychologist, Dr Catherine Bonnet, are the other two women on the commission. The fifth lay member is Claudio Papale, an Italian civil and canon lawyer who works at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

Pope Francis also appointed Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and two Jesuit priests from the Gregorian University — Humberto Miguel Yáñez from Argentina and Hans Zollner from Germany — to complete the eight-member commission. A Vatican communiqué said more members “from various geographical areas of the world” would eventually be added.

Pope Francis announced on 5 December that he had accepted a request from the eight-member Council of Cardinals (C8) to set up the new child-protection commission. One of the C8, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, who has been appointed to the commission, has a reputation as one of the bishops with most credibility in dealing with abusive priests.

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