This morning’s briefing on the work of the Council of Cardinals involved the extraordinary participation of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, who communicated the Pope’s approval of a proposal submitted by the eight cardinals – the creation of a Commission for the protection of minors.
“Continuing decisively along the lines undertaken by Pope Benedict XVI, and accepting a proposal presented by the Council of Cardinals, the Holy Father has decided to establish a specific Commission for the protection of minors, with the aim of advising Pope Francis on the Holy See’s commitment to the protection of children and in pastoral care for victims of abuse. Specifically, the Commission will study present programs in place for the protection of children; formulate suggestions for new initiatives on the part of the Curia, in collaboration with bishops, Episcopal conferences, religious superiors and conferences of religious superiors; and indicate the names of persons suited to the systematic implementation of these new initiatives, including laypersons, religious and priests with responsibilities for the safety of children, in relations with the victims, in mental health, in the application of the law, etc.
“The composition and competences of the Commission will be indicated shortly, with more details from the Holy Father in an appropriate document”.
The Cardinal went on to mention lines of action for the future Commission: guidelines for the protection of children, the development and extension of norms, procedures and strategies for the protection of children and the prevention of abuse of minors, educational programs for children, parents, and all those who work with minors, guidelines for catechists, and for the formation of seminarians, the ongoing formation of priests, protocols for environmental safety codes of professional conduct, proof of suitability for priestly ministry, screening and checking of previous offences, the state of action of requests for psychiatric evaluation, co-operation with the civil authorities, reporting of crimes, compliance with civil law, communications regarding clergy declared guilty, pastoral care for victims and their families, spiritual assistance, mental health services, collaboration with experts in the research and development of the prevention of abuse of minors, psychology, sociology, legal sciences; collaboration with bishops and religious superiors, optimization of procedures, implementation of laws and guidelines, relations with the faithful and with means of communication, encounters with victims, supervision and rehabilitation of clergy guilty of abuse.
The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., subsequently communicated that the work of the Council, which will be concluded this afternoon, continued its examination of the various congregations of the Roman Curia yesterday and this morning.
“The Pope participated in the meetings held yesterday afternoon and this morning”, said Fr. Lombardi, clarifying that Pope Francis is well and that yesterday’s meeting with the cardinal archbishop of Milan, Angelo Scola, who accompanied a delegation from EXPO MILAN 2015, was cancelled as the Holy Father was tired following the general audience celebrated in St. Peter’s Square and therefore preferred to postpone the event to a more suitable occasion.