Meetings for the protection of minors
This week, I write to you from Rome, where I have been attending meetings of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and the C9 Council of Cardinals.
As I mentioned in my previous post, we began our meetings with the Commission last week, and it was an opportunity to receive our new members, who come from many different parts of the world.
Our meetings began last Wednesday (4/18) and Thursday (4/19) with a long session with a group of victims and survivors from England and Wales. These were members of the Survivor Advisory Panel, a group that is organized to provide input to the bishops' conference there and their National Catholic Safeguarding Commission. Then, on Saturday (4/21) and Sunday (4/22), we held our plenary session.
During our meetings, we discussed a number of topics, and some of our new members gave us reports on their work. Judge Owen spoke to us about the report of the Royal Commission in Australia and Prof. Mezmur spoke to us about children's rights and the situation in many different African countries. Then, Nelson Dos Santos spoke to us about the work of his community, Fazenda da Esperanca, which helps people suffering from addiction and abuse in various countries.
We also established three different working groups: one on guidelines and policies concerning child protection, another on outreach and pastoral care for victims and survivors, and the third on education and information.
Of course, we continue to be involved in the training of Church leadership, new bishops, bishops' conferences and conferences of religious superiors, seminary rectors and other groups throughout the world. I encourage you all to visit the website of the Commission www.protectionofminors.va to learn more about the many different aspects of our work.
One of the highlights of our gathering was our meeting with the Holy Father on Saturday (4/21), at which time two of the members presented the ideas, hopes and expectations of the Commission in its new iteration.
In our meeting, the Holy Father announced that he was going to make our statutes permanent, previously they had been approved "ad experimentum" for three years.
On Monday (4/23), we began our meetings of the C9 Council of Cardinals, which, as usual, ran until Wednesday (4/25).
During this session, we devoted much of our attention to the drafting of the new Apostolic Constitution of the Roman Curia which will, of course, be presented to the Holy Father for his review and approval.
The new constitution focuses on the Curia's role of serving the Holy Father and the local churches, emphasizing the pastoral nature of their work, and developing a new section of the Secretariat of State that will focus on the diplomatic service of the Holy See.
During our meetings, I was also able to brief the Council on the progress being made at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and particularly about the meeting we had with the Survivor Advisory Panel and about the importance for all of us to listen to the experiences of abuse survivors.