The aim, he explained, is to take stock of "what is happening and what needs to change, so that the competent authorities can act."
Dioceses around the world may now have to report annually to Rome on their anti-abuse efforts. Pope Francis has commissioned the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to produce an annual report, receiving its members at the conclusion of their plenary assembly on April 29, 2022, at the Vatican.
“There is still much to be done” in the protection of minors, but “the seeds that have been sown are beginning to bear good fruit,” the Pope said, referring to the decrease in the number of cases of abuse according to available data.
During the audience, the head of the Catholic Church asked the Vatican Commission to prepare an annual report on initiatives to combat abuse within the Church. The aim, he explained, is to take stock of “what is happening and what needs to change, so that the competent authorities can act.”
This document, the Argentine Pontiff added, will serve “transparency and accountability.” And he warned, “If it turns out that no progress is being made, the faithful will continue to lose confidence in their pastors.”
The independence of the Commission
Although the new apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium has included the Commission for the Protection of Minors in the organization chart of the Roman Curia – within the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith – the Pope insisted on the “freedom of thought and action” of its members. You are “independent,” he told them repeatedly, “and you will continue to be in direct contact with me.”
Pope Francis entrusted the Commission with equipping the Church with “the best methods” to fight against any abuse, which “in whatever form, is unacceptable” but remains “particularly serious” when perpetrated on children.
Finally, he urged the members of the Commission to ensure that the Bishops’ Conferences create reception centers where victims can find “healing,” taking “all means” to render justice and to punish the aggressors.
The Bishop of Rome particularly praised the commitment of Cardinal O’Malley as head of the Commission, thanking him for his “great perseverance” in taking up this cause “against all odds.”