By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/24/2014 (1 year ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Despite powerful efforts by Pope Benedict XVI and Francis, the public continues to assail the Church for its handling of the child sex abuse scandals which have rocked the church for decades. In a bid to further protect children, Pope Francis has formed a new commission to address the issue. The commission includes a woman who was victimized by a priest as a child.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis has announced the formation of an eight-member commission that will provide more advice on the Church's child sex abuse policy. The announcement was made on Saturday and includes a woman who was abused by a priest at the age of 13.
The formation of the new commission was anticipated as early as December when the Vatican announced that Francis wanted to create it. The commission will advise Pope Francis on which policies to pursue to best protect children.
Light a candle for all those who have suffered with abuse.
The commission is made of eight members including four women. One of those women is Marie Collins who was abused by a priest at the age of 13 in Ireland. When she reported her abuse to Church officials in Ireland, she was disbelieved, then later blamed for what happened to her, despite the fact that she was obviously a young child.
The Vatican announced on Saturday that the commission would look into both "civil and canonical duties and responsibilities" regarding accused personnel. This means the commission will examine the requirement to report any suspected cases to both the Vatican and local authorities, as is appropriate.
It remains to be known if the commission will advise the Pope on how to handle bishops who cover up such crimes. Canon law allows for the Pope to discipline a bishop who neglects his duty, but no bishop has ever been sanctioned by the Church for failing to report a sex abuse case. It is strongly hoped this will change.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley will also serve on the commission. Cardinal O'Malley is close to Pope Francis and is the archbishop of Boston where he has witnessed a scandal firsthand.
Two other members of the commission are professors from the Jesuit Pontifical Gregorian University who in 2012 hosted a seminar for how to best protect children in the church.
The Vatican announced that Pope Francis wants the protection of children within the Church to be "among her highest priorities."
Pope Francis has also defended the Church from scandal mongers who may have an agenda against the Church itself. Although abuse of children within the Church is inexcusable, as well as its cover up, the Church has done much to ensure the protection of children.
In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis said, "The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that has moved with transparency and responsibility. No one has done more. And yet the church is the only one that has been attacked."
Some activists want the pope to simply dismiss bishops who have been accused of covering up for accused priests. However, bishops are not simply removed because they fail in their duty, particularly when they see that duty as possibly conflicting with the rules of the Church. Pope Francis isn't shy about removing problem bishops, but it is important that they understand the new rules and are given an opportunity to comply before being called to the Vatican to account for their roles in such scandals.
Although how bishops should proceed in these cases should be straightforward, it isn't thanks to Papal decrees and Church law from the past century. Hopefully now, Pope Francis makes appropriate expectations crystal clear. He has thus far given every indication he is doing so.
It is hoped that through the work of this new commission, the scourge of child sex abuse scandals will finally evaporate from the Church. The Church is not a hiding place for pedophiles and Pope Francis is doing his best to ensure that it is never again used as such.
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