Sr Arina Gonsalves joins Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors
by Nirmala Carvalho

The Indian nun has a long experience with the Archdiocese of Mumbai. In 2016 Card Gracias chose her as a member of the expert group for child protection. In India, abuses occur “in schools and even in orphanages,” she notes.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis has chosen Sister Arina Gonsalves, an Indian nun, to help the Catholic Church protect children and prevent violence against them.

Sister Arina belongs to the congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM), and has a long history of personal involvement with the Archdiocese of Mumbai to protect children.

"I am very honoured for this appointment,” she told AsiaNews. “It is a great privilege for me to serve and contribute to the universal Church from India."

When her appointment was announced on Saturday, Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and newly elected president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Latin rite, reacted positively.

"I am very happy with the choice of Sister Arina,” he said. “This way we will have an Indian voice with great experience helping the universal Church. She has been at our side for years and thanks to her experience she will be able to make a notable contribution to the Church."

The Archdiocese of Mumbai set up a Committee for the Protection of Minors in 2016 with the aim of raising awareness about the Protection of Children from the Sexual Offenses Act of 2012, and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013.

For Sr Arina, her mission "is to prevent [violence] and protect vulnerable children and adults by raising their awareness. The Catholic Church really wants to help children and we must do everything possible to protect minors.”

Sadly, “In Indian newspapers we read about child abuse in schools and even in orphanages. We must do everything to protect them."

The nun noted that Card Gracias, who now heads the CBCI, in 2016 " issued guidelines to combat sexual harassment. All this will help the Church's mission to protect children and vulnerable adults."

Sister Arina is among the nine new members of the 16-member Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Card Seán O'Malley OFM has been confirmed as its chair.

In addition to the Indian nun, the new members include: Prof Benyam Dawit Mezmur (Ethiopia), Hon Neville Owen (Australia), Ms Sinalelea Fe'ao (Tonga), Prof Myriam Wijlens (Netherlands), Prof Ernesto Caffo (Italy), Sr Jane Bertelsen FMDM (UK), Ms Teresa Kettelkamp (US), and Mr Nelson Giovanelli Rosendo Dos Santos (Brazil).

The seven returning members are: Dr Gabriel Dy-Liacco (Philippines), H.E. Mgr Luis Manuel Alì Herrera (Colombia), Fr Hans Zollner SJ (Germany), Prof Hanna Suchocka (Poland), Sr Kayula Lesa RSC (Zambia), Sr Hermenegild Makoro CPS (South Africa), and Mgr Robert Oliver (US).