· Established by Pope Francis based on a proposal of the Council of Cardinals ·
Pope Francis has decided to establish a Commission for the protection of minors for the purpose of assisting him in the Holy See's commitment to the protection of children and to pastoral care for victims of abuse. Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, announced this in the Holy See Press Office today, 5 December, during a briefing at the end of the Council of Cardinal's meetings. This decision, explained the Cardinal – one of the members of the Council – was made by the Pope accepting a proposal presented by the Council in order to continue “decisively along the lines undertaken by Pope Benedict XVI”.
The Commission will keep the Pope informed about current programmes in place for the protection of children, will formulate suggestions for new initiatives on the part of the Curia — in collaboration with bishops, episcopal conferences, religious superiors and conferences of religious superiors — as well as indicating the names of persons suited to the systematic implementation of these new initiatives, including lay persons, religious and priests with responsibilities for the safety of children, in relations with the victims, in mental health, in the application of the law.
The composition and competences of the Commission will be indicated in the near future, with more details from the Holy Father in an appropriate document.
Cardinal O’Malley explained various working proposals for the Commission, including the drafting of guidelines for the protection of minors; the development of training programs and protocols to create safe environments; plans for cooperating with civil authorities; promoting pastoral care for victims and their families, collaborating with research experts and bishops and religious superiors. The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi, then said that, in the presence of Pope Francis, the meetings concluded this afternoon, completing the review of the various Congregations of the Roman Curia which began in this session of the Council. The next round of meetings is scheduled for the 17, 18 and 19 February, preceding the Consistory of the College of Cardinals due to take place on the 20 and 21 of the same month, and the Consistory for the Creation of new cardinals on 22 February, Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, and the solemn Concelebration of new cardinals on Sunday 23. Finally Fr Lombardi mentioned that in the days following the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops is scheduled to take place (24-25 February).
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