“Pope Francis revives sex abuse commission amid criticism of Vatican support for Chilean bishop” & related articles

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The IndependentTuesday

Nicole Winfield

Pope Francis. Photo: APPope Francis. Photo: AP

Pope Francis revived a sex abuse advisory commission by naming new members, after coming under fire for his handling of the scandal and his support for a Chilean bishop accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring their abuse.

The announcement of the new members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors came on the same day that a Vatican investigator will take the testimony in New York of one of the main whistleblowers in the Chilean cover-up scandal.

Francis tasked Archbishop Charles Scicluna with the fact-finding mission into Bishop Juan Barros after he was criticised in Chile for defending Barros and calling the victims’ cover-up accusations against him slander.

The initial three-year mandate of commission members had lapsed two months ago, on December 17.

Francis named nine new members on Saturday and kept seven from the initial group.

A Vatican statement said survivors of abuse are included, but did not identify them to protect their privacy.

None of the most outspoken lay advocates for victims from the original group returned, but a statement stressed that the commission’s work would be helped throughout by the experience of victims.

Commission members are to open their April plenary by meeting with victims privately, and discussions are continuing to create an “international survivor advisory panel” to advise the commission and make sure the voices of victims are heard in all its deliberations, the statement said.

Francis created the commission in December 2013, responding to complaints that he had not prioritised the fight against clerical abuse and cover-up enough.

The group’s mission was to advise the pope on best practices to protect children, but it faced strong in-house resistance to some of its core proposals.

Commission members found greater reception in hosting grassroots workshops in bishops’ conferences around the world.

To date, it has worked with almost 200 dioceses and religious communities worldwide to raise awareness and to educate staff on safeguarding.

The first members of the commission were named in March 2014, including Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of abuse and advocate for victims.

But by March of last year, Ms Collins had resigned, citing the “unacceptable” resistance to the commission from within the Vatican, and in particular the office tasked with investigating sex abuse cases.

The commission’s most significant proposal came in 2015, when it successfully persuaded Francis and his “kitchen cabinet” to create a tribunal section inside the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to judge bishops who botched handling cases of their abuser priests.

Francis approved funding and personnel for an initial five-year term.

But amid resistance, the tribunal never got off the ground and Francis scrapped it entirely in 2016.

Instead, he issued a document laying out essentially existing procedures for the Vatican to investigate negligence. There is no transparency to the process, however.

Press Association


Pope Francis has revived the child sex abuse panel after he was criticized for not renewing the commission’s three-year mandate.

Pope Francis revived a commission on child sex abuse on the same day that a man detailed his claims against a Chilean priest in a New York meeting with a Vatican sex crimes investigator.The twin Saturday events marked major developments in the Vatican’s bid to quell a growing firestorm over the Pope’s handling of the priest abuse scandal.

Whistleblower Juan Carlos Cruz emerged from a three-hour meeting with Archbishop Charles Scicluna saying that he finally felt the Vatican was listening to his claims against Bishop Juan Barros.

Cruz and two others have come forward alleging that Barros witnessed — and has since tried to cover up — the abuse inflicted on them by Chile’s most notorious predator priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima.

“For the first time I felt that someone is listening,” Cruz said after the meeting at the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus in Manhattan.

“I think (Scicluna) was sincerely moved by what I was saying. He cried.”

Francis ignited fresh outrage during a visit to Chile last month when he defended Barros as the target of a smear campaign.

“The day someone brings me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk,” Francis said at the time. “But there is not one single piece of evidence. It is all slander

The backlash prompted the Pope to dispatch Scicluna to investigate the multiple allegations against Madrid.

Cruz, a Chilean national who now lives in Philadelphia, described their meeting as “intense, detailed and eye-opening.”

Cruz said the archbishop had “tears in his eyes” as the victim recounted the abuse he suffered at the hands of Karadima.

Cruz has previously said that Karadima would kiss and fondle younger priests and teens.

“There are thousands of other victims around the world that need to be believed and heard and given the same treatment and respect that I have received today,” Cruz said.

Also Saturday, Francis reactivated a panel on child sex abuse after taking heat for failing to renew the commission’s three-year mandate when it expired in December.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston was reinstalled to head the group known as the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

“The Holy Father has ensured continuity in the work of our commission, which is to assist local churches throughout the world in their efforts to safeguard all children, young people, and vulnerable adults from harm,” Cardinal O’Malley said in a statement.

The group’s 16 members will feature nine new members including sex abuse survivors who asked to remain anonymous, the Vatican said.

Other survivors had resigned from the old commission claiming that it was ineffective.

Irish victim Marie Collins, after quitting March 1, accused Vatican officials of stonewalling the panel’s work, calling it “unacceptable” and “devastating.”


Pope Francis Renews Sex Abuse Probe Amid Storm Over Backing Chilean Bishop Accused of Cover Up


17 February 2018 at 8:02 AM

Pope Francis has revived the lapsed child abuse advisory committee Saturday, after facing criticism for backing a Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse by a priest.

Francis named nine new members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors Saturday, after the commission’s initial three year mandate lapsed on December 17, the Associated Press reported. 

The announcement came on the same day that a Vatican investigator is set to meet a whistleblower in the Chilean priest abuse scandal in New York. Archbishop Charles Scicluna is investigating allegations that Bishop Juan Barros witnessed abuse being carried out by his mentor, Reverend Fernando Karadima, and took no action.

Barros denies the allegations.

The meeting between Scicluna and whistleblower Juan Carlos Cruz will take place at a Roman Catholic church in Manhattan.

Critics questioned the Vatican’s commitment to fighting child abuse after the commission’s  lapse.

According to a Vatican statement, the new members of the commission will join eight existing members. The group said in a statement that some of them are abuse survivors who have yet to publicly identify themselves.

Six founding members of the commission were not re-appointed, a move criticised by abuse survivor Marie Collins, who resigned from the commission in March.

“I’m shocked at the discarding of some of the most active and independent members of the commission,” Collins told the National Catholic Reporter. “Four of the laywomen have gone and they were really the most active and had the most experience of working in child protection and working directly with survivors.”

Francis is facing the most urgent crisis of his papacy over his support for Barros, whom he made a bishop in 2015 in face of protests from Catholics. He has described the allegations against Barros as “slander.”

He has vetoed a proposal from Chilean church leaders that Barros, and two other priests trained by Karadima, resign and take a year-long sabbatical.

In a rare u-turn, last month he apologized for saying that abuse survivors should show “proof” of the crimes against them, and dispatched Scicluna, one of the Vatican’s most respected abuse investigators, to Chile to probe the claims of victims.

3 Responses to “Pope Francis revives sex abuse commission amid criticism of Vatican support for Chilean bishop” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    How many more times must the wheel be re-invented? Aside wasting time and money, what exactly is the point of this? What do clergy need to know about clerical sexual abuse aside the fact that Our Lord Himself said that he that scandalize one of these little ones that believe in Him, better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea?

    I have often said that if our bishops spent half as much time listening to God as they do to lawyers we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.

  2. Miecul says:

    It has been said “Better Late Than Never,” I say fooey!

    He has lost any confidence I had for him in my eyes.

    BTW I was at the Eganville parish a couple of weeks ago and noticed on a plaque in the parish hall was in big bold letters, Monsignor Robert Borne. If I would have had my camera I would have taken a picture. I don’t have a Cell. I would think the parish would have stricken his name. Maybe they believe it was a mistake. I’m sure some still think that Prince and Miller were innocent along with others from our diocese.

    It’s one of those days! Sorry….

  3. BC says:

    “We never worked with Pope Francis. We only said hello, two minutes, and good-bye, two minutes.”

    French child psychiatrist Catherine Bonnet; one of six founding members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors not reappointed by Pope Francis.


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