On Friday, 30 September, Pope Francis appointed 10 new members to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors: Bishop Peter Karam, Bishop Thibault Verny, Fr Tim Brennan, msc, Sr Mary Niluka Perera, rgs, Sister Annah Nyadombo, hlmc, Dr. Irma Patricia Espinosa Hernández, Ms. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Dr. Anne-Marie Emilie Rivet-Duval, Ms. Teresa Devlin, and Ewa Kusz.
The Commission, which is now comprised of an equal number of religious and lay men and women, was made part of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in June with Praedicate Evangelium, the new constitution for the Roman Curia. Now that it is embedded in the Curia, “it is a very special opportunity for us to carry on a mission of promoting a culture of safeguarding in the Curia itself”, said Commission President Cardinal Sean O’Malley. Indeed, he added, “we feel that for the Holy See and the Roman Curia, it’s very important that these entities model for the whole Church the very highest standards of safeguarding”. Cardinal O’Malley said the Holy Father wants the Commission to be even more directly involved with individual Bishops’ conferences in order to help them ensure they have the best guidelines and implementation strategies.
“Right from the beginning”, the Cardinal explained, “we’ve tried to make it very clear that the Commission doesn’t have any role in individual cases or the legal or juridical challenges of the whole area of safeguarding. But certainly, this new configuration shows how the protection of minors and prevention has a natural connection with the system of justice”. Cardinal O’Malley expressed his hope that the joining of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to the Curia, will help “bring a pastoral component to their work. At the same time, he added, “their work will help us to have a greater understanding of the reality of abuse and what is taking place throughout the world, because all the cases are reported to them”.