“The historic Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church enabled the global leadership of the Catholic Church to clearly hear the voices of victims of sexual abuse. Those voices will forever influence our decisions so that no one will again feel the pain of being abused and the additional wounds of being abandoned or ignored.
I too have met with and heard from victim survivors and I commit to doing all that I can to seek justice for these brave men and women and to provide healing through counseling and pastoral support.
While the evil of child sexual abuse infects our entire society, and while the Church has made great progress in accountability and setting standards for a safe environment, we must do more within the Church and within society to make the protection of children our top priority.
As Pope Francis said, ‘if in the Church there should emerge even a single case of abuse – which already in itself represents an atrocity – that case will be faced with the utmost seriousness.’”
Nearly 200 cardinals, bishops and religious superiors from around the world attended the “Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church” at the Vatican Feb. 21-24. Pope Francis has mandated that participants come up with “concrete” initiatives at a local level to help the Church in protecting minors. The pope pointed to the work of international organizations in their “Seven Strategies for Ending Violence against Children” and guidelines and other resources produced by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The U.S. bishops are meeting June 9-14 to discuss concrete measures for the U.S.
At a press briefing following the conclusion of the meeting, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Moderator of the Meeting, announced three Vatican-led initiatives:
- The imminent publication of a Motu proprio by the Pope, providing rules and regulations to safeguard minors and vulnerable adults within Vatican City State.
- The distribution of a “vademecum” (or rulebook) to Bishops around the world, explaining their juridical and pastoral duties and responsibilities with regard to protecting children.
- The creation of an operative “task force”, comprising competent experts, to assist those Bishops’ Conferences that may lack the necessary resources or expertise to confront the issue of safeguarding minors, and deal with abuse.
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