Pope Francis has established a Vatican committee to protect children from child abuse, it has been reported.
The announcement was made in a statement by the Vatican after Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, met with Pope Francis and his cardinal advisors earlier this month. The Archbishop – whose own church was once rocked by an abuse scandal over a decade ago – gave details of the committee at the Holy See press office on Thursday.
Pope Francis has previously stated that he felt that addressing the issues of child abuse was necessary for the credibility of the church; he has also expressed his compassion for the victims of abuse.
Details of the new commission were announced shortly after the Vatican denied the UN’s request for information of past abuse allegations about members of the Catholic Church, including abuse allegedly carried out by priests, nuns and monks.
Several guidelines are to be put in place by the new committee. These include guidance to insure the protection of minors, protocols and training to establish safe environments for children, and plans are to be drawn up to promote better co-operation with the civil authorities.
In addition, there are plans to introduce pastoral care for the victims of child abuse. Moreover, the commission has been tasked with keeping Pope Francis up to date with the current measures in place to keep children safe from abuse.
A statement issued by the Vatican said the commission:
“…will formulate suggestions for new initiatives on the part of the Curia — in collaboration with bishops, episcopal conferences, religious superiors and conferences of religious superiors — as well as indicating the names of persons suited to the systematic implementation of these new initiatives, including lay persons, religious and priests with responsibilities for the safety of children, in relations with the victims, in mental health, in the application of the law.”
Over the years the Catholic church has faced many claims of abuse, some of which have ended with investigations and charges. The revelations were damaging to the Church and to the Vatican itself. There are even allegations that the Vatican had covered up the scandal – a claim that has been denied, but Pope Francis is determined to make a difference and is making clear steps to better protect the safety of minors in the future.