New initiatives announced by Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

The work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which held its tenth ordinary plenary assembly in Rome from 4 to 7 April, continues with its program of learning, listening, assistance and protection of the most vulnerable.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children, which held its tenth ordinary plenary assembly, in Rome from 4 to 7 April, continues with its program of learning, listening, assistance and protection of the most vulnerable. 

In a communiqué, the Commission reports that in the effort to listen to and learn from the reality of abuse directly from the voice of the victims, the testimony of a sub-Saharan African mother who was the victim of child sexual abuse was heard. The testimony, which the Commission says it is grateful for, was useful for understanding the complex problems that victims / survivors of clerical sexual abuse face in their specific cultural context.

At the opening of the Assembly, the president of the Commission, Card. Séan Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M. Opening the April 4-7 Assembly, Commission President, Cardinal Séan Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap. greeted members on behalf of the Holy Father.

He also conveyed Pope Francis’ appreciation for the Commission’s assistance in initially proposing both the February Meeting with Presidents of Bishops Conferences on the Protection of Minors and the recently published safeguarding guidelines and norms for Vatican City State, the Vicariate for Vatican City and the Roman Curia.

Feedback from the February meeting indicates that the understanding of the critical role of safeguarding in the life and mission of the Church is maturing. It also indicates that much remains to be done.

In light of this and its specific mandate to advise the Holy Father and through him assist the local Church leadership, the Commission is pursuing a large number of projects including:

·       Through its group Working with Survivors, the establishment of a Virtual Survivor’s Advisory Panel (SAP). This method of listening to, and learning from survivors in a safe and culturally familiar space, is in addition to those local SAPs already established and at various stages of development within the local Church in Brazil, Zambia and the Philippines.

·       An internal study day with international experts regarding understanding sexual offending and its implications for preventing future abuse. This understanding is a key factor in proactively providing safe environments for minors. 

·       A substantial project on creating an audit instrument. This includes the study of materials on safeguarding guidelines and the analysis of models for monitoring the level of implementation with the aim of creating a resource to assist local churches in the creation, implementation, review and audit of safeguarding programmes.

·       Research to assess the status of implementation of safeguarding education and formation in Catholic schools, beginning with pilot projects in South Africa, Colombia, India, the Philippines and Tonga.

  An international academic seminar is also planned on issues related to "Confidentiality and transparency", with particular attention to canonical criminal procedures, scheduled for December 2019 and a "Latin American Symposium on Protective Environments in Churches and Civil Societies", assisted by PCPM and the Archdiocese of Bogotá. The participation of the Confederation of Latin America and the Caribbean of religious men and women (CLAR), of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), of Catholic schools, government bodies, international NGOs and local, international media and Churches of other denominations.

The Commission's working groups have also continued their dialogue with the Congregations and dicasteries of the Roman Curia, which have particular responsibilities in the sector.