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Psychologists, psychiatrist among 10 appointed to Pope’s panel on sex abuse

DURING POPE FRANCIS mass for the 10th World Meeting of Families

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media for Aleteia - published on 09/30/22

The 20-member pontifical commission represents 20 countries from all the continents.

Pope Francis has appointed 1o new members to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Vatican press office announced September 30, 2022

Bishop Thibault Verny, auxiliary bishop of Paris, is one of two new bishop members, as well as Bishop Peter Karam, a New York native who is patriarchal vicar of the Synod of Maronite Bishops.

Bishop Verny is in charge of coordinating the fight against abuse in the Diocese of Paris, and Bishop Karam has worked to integrate norms against abuse within the Maronite dioceses of Lebanon.

The Pope has appointed eight other members to this advisory body charged with promoting the responsibility of particular Churches in the protection of minors and vulnerable adults.

The pope also named Australian Brother Tim Brennan, who has served as provincial of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. He has worked to establish norms to combat abuse in his country.

Mary Niluka Perera, a Sri Lankan from the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, who heads the Protection of Minors section of the International Union of Superiors General in Rome, and Sister Annah Theresa Nyadombo, a Carmelite Servant, who is the coordinator for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Zimbabwe. Both nuns are also members of the Talitha Kum association, which fights against human trafficking.

Pope Francis has appointed three medical experts: Ewa Kusz of Poland, a clinical psychologist with significant experience with people who were sexually abused as children, who has previously worked with the bishops of Central Europe on this issue; Mexican psychiatrist and psychotherapist Irma Patricia Espinosa Hernandez, who works with her country’s bishops’ conference and specializes in profiling abusers; and clinical psychologist Emilie Rivet Duval of Mauritius, who works on combating abuse in school settings.

The Pope also appointed Teresa Devlin, president of the National Council for the Protection of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, and Dutchwoman Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, special rapporteur for the United Nations on the sale and sexual exploitation of children between 2014 and 2020 and president of ECPAT, an association fighting against child pornography, prostitution and trafficking.

Advice for the Pope and Church authorities

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was created by Pope Francis in 2014 as an advisory council to propose initiatives to him to promote the protection of minors and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church. With the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, the commission is given the mission to assist local church authorities in developing tools against abuse. While remaining independent, the commission is linked to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The commission has 10 other members (20 in all) and is headed by Cardinal Archbishop Seán O’Malley of Boston. It has a strict parity of 10 male and 10 female members and includes 12 lay people, 3 religious sisters, 2 priests and 3 bishops. There is also a strong geographical diversity: 20 countries from all continents are represented in the commission.

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Pope Francis
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