COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS ENDS WEEKLONG PLENARY
(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has released a communiqué at the end of its week-long Plenary Assembly at the Vatican. Dated February 8, 2016, the statement details the focal points and proposals that emerged from the six Working Groups of the session, including a request for Pope Francis to remind all authorities in the Church of the importance of responding directly to victims and survivors who approach them, the finalization of a Universal Day of Prayer, and a penitential liturgy.
The communiqué goes on to list upcoming activities of the Commission and partner organizations, including workshops on the legal aspects of the Protection of Minors with a view to to establishing greater transparency around canonical trials, and the development of a website to facilitate sharing of best practices for the protection of minors around the world.
Below, please find the full text, in its official English version, of the communiqué from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors:
Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors
8 February 2016
TO BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY
The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has had seven full days of meetings in Rome. Meetings of the six Working Groups focused on updates for current projects, and developing and drafting proposals. Outside collaborators who assisted the Working Groups included the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD), and an expert in Penal Canon Law. Draft proposals were presented to the Plenary Assembly for further discussion and decision about policies to propose to the Holy Father. Policies endeavor to recognize the diversity of information and guidance currently available to the Church around the world.
Examples of proposals being finalized for Pope Francis’ consideration include: a request for him to remind all authorities in the Church of the importance of responding directly to victims and survivors who approach them; the finalization of a Universal Day of Prayer and a penitential liturgy.
Workshops on the legal aspects of the Protection of Minors to establish more transparency around canonical trials, with participation of external collaborators, are planned for later in the year and a report and recommendations will be provided at the next Plenary Assembly. A website is also being developed to share Best Practice for the Protection of Minors around the world.
In order to fulfill the mission of the Holy Father’s Chirograph for the Institution of the Commission to promote local responsibility, Commission members are actively in contact with numerous Bishops Conferences, and members of the Commission have presented to Religious Conferences and Congregations on safeguarding minors.
Over the past year or so, Commission members have met with Bishops and child protection authorities in: Philippines, Austria, Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Poland, Central America (in Costa Rica), United States National Safe Environment (SECs) and Victims Assistance Coordinators (VACs). As an outcome of the workshop conducted by members of the Commission last August in the Philippines, the Philippine Bishops’ Conference created a child safeguarding office and Pastoral Exhortation on the pastoral care and protection of minors.
A meeting is planned in March in Ghana with Secretaries General of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), and a second meeting with child protection practitioners drawn from the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) in Tanzania. Commission members are also attending the Anglophone Safeguarding Conference in Rome and the United States National Safe Environment and Victims Assistance Coordinators 2016. In 2017 the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) has requested a workshop with Commission members.
The Commission likewise welcomes the recent announcement that in a week’s time the first course offering a diploma in the Safeguarding of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University will start with 19 participants from four continents: Africa, Europe, America and Asia.
The September 2016 meeting of the Commission will have a strategic focus on safeguarding minors in Catholic schools, and will invite contributions from experts in Latin America, England and Wales.
The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was created by Pope Francis in March of 2014. The Chirograph of His Holiness Pope Francis states specifically, “The Commission’s specific task is to propose to me the most opportune initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults, in order that we may do everything possible to ensure that crimes such as those which have occurred are no longer repeated in the Church. The Commission is to promote local responsibility in the particular Churches, uniting their efforts to those of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the protection of all children and vulnerable adults.”END OF RELEASE
Following is some background on a concurrent story about commission member Peter Saunders who has said the only person who can tell him to take a leave of absence from the commission is Pope Francis:
EWTN/CNA – February 6 – The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children has announced member Peter Saunders will take a leave of absence from his work with the commission.
“Today’s meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors discussed the direction and purpose of the Commission,” read a Feb. 6 press release from the commission. “As the result of this discussion, it was decided that Mr. Peter Saunders would take a leave of absence from his membership to consider how he might best support the commission’s work.”
Saunders is founder of the U.K.’s National Association for People Abused in Childhood, which focuses on abuse prevention and support for abuse survivors.
A survivor of priestly sexual abuse, Saunders had been a member of the Commission for the Protection of Children since December 2014. He reportedly became increasingly critical of the commission’s process of reforming the Church’s abuse protocol.
In a statement Saturday, the commission’s president, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, confirmed Saunders “has been asked to advise the commission on the possible establishment of a victim- survivor panel to work with the commission.”
A Vatican official who requested anonymity told journalists the panel will likely be modeled after a similar panel established for Saunder’s U.K. organization.
Saunders was one of 17 members of the commission, which Pope Francis founded to address the abuse crisis. The commission met in Rome this weekend.
According to Vatican Radio, “examples of proposals being finalized for Pope Francis’ consideration include: a request for him to remind all authorities in the Church of the importance of responding directly to victims and survivors who approach them, the finalization of a Universal Day of Prayer and a penitential liturgy.”