Address of Cardinal Seán O'Malley, OFM, at the meeting of Pope Francis with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

Rome (Thursday, September 21, 2017, Gaudium Press) The address of Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM, at the meeting of Pope Francis with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, follows:

Dear Holy Father
On behalf of the members of our Commission, I wish to express our sincere gratitude for this opportunity to meet with Your Holiness. It is our privilege to serve as your advisors in such an important mission, the protection of all children, young people, and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse. Child protection is clearly a highest priority for the Church in our time, and I wish to express from the outset, Holy Father, how personally grateful I am to serve with such competent and committed members of this Commission.

Over these past four years we have striven to fulfil the role that has been entrusted to us, promoting local responsibility at every level to ensure that our Church is a safe and secure home for all. We consider the safeguarding of minors and vulnerable adults to be an integral part of the mission of the Church, one firmly rooted in our belief that each individual has a unique worth created in the image and likeness of God.

The Church’s care for victims/survivors of abuse and their families is a primary consideration in this mission. By listening attentively and sharing experiences with them, our Commission has benefitted greatly from all that survivors have offered to us.
Other points of emphasis have been programs of education and training, especially to Church leaders, and assisting local Churches to develop and implement their Guidelines for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. These efforts are effective ways to take the “best practices” developed in different places and to share them with bishops, religious superiors, and with their conferences, especially those with fewer resources.

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Two of our members will now share with you, Holy Father, an overview of the various projects undertaken by our six “Working Groups” over the past year. Sr. Hermenegild Makoro, CPS is the Secretary General of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Mr. Bill Kilgallon is the Director of the National Office for Professional Standards of the Catholic Church in New Zealand.

Following today’s meeting, we will meet together in plenary assembly to continue these projects and prepare the recommendations we will offer to Your Holiness as a result. Because we are concluding the initial three-year mandate we have received, we will also offer recommendations for continuing the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and for renewing our membership with representatives from Churches in different parts of the world.

May I conclude by expressing, Your Holiness, my own sincere appreciation for the generosity that has been expressed by each of our members in their service and in the expertise that they have brought to their work. And on their behalf, may I also express how much the leadership You continue to provide, Holy Father, truly acts as an inspiration and a profound encouragement to us. Your commitment to “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse, to transparency and accountability, and to making every change that is needed in our Church enables us to carry out zealously the mission entrusted to us.
Please be assured of our prayers for you and for your apostolic ministry, especially for the many ways you bring the Gospel message to the poor and to those who are must vulnerable among us.

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