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Vatican-commissioned abuse report will show work that lies ahead: Pope

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 03/10/24

“Our commitment must not wane” in fighting against abuse, Pope Francis said to the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Pope Francis has asked the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to ensure that the measures adopted in recent years to combat abuse are properly applied throughout the world. During a meeting on March 7, 2024, in which the Pope was unable to read his speech due to his continuing ill health, his speech referred to the annual report on protection policies and procedures in the Church, that was commissioned in 2022. 

Still weakened by a cold that has prevented him from delivering most of his speeches for the past two weeks, Pope Francis’ message to the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was read by a monsignor. Created in 2014, the commission is chaired by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, and is made up of specialists – lay, clergy and religious – on abuse issues.

In his message, the Pope underlined the “time and effort” involved in compiling the first annual report on safeguarding policies and procedures to fight against abuse in the Church. The report is due to be published in the spring, the commission announced last September. 

“This [report] should not be just another document, but should help us better understand the work that still lies ahead,” the Pope’s speech said, without going into further details. 

The need to keep fighting this issue

“All of us, especially Church authorities, are called to acknowledge firsthand the impact of abuse and to be deeply moved by the suffering of victims, listening directly to their voices and showing a closeness that, through practical decisions, can lift them up, help them, and prepare a different future for everyone,” the Pontiff emphasized later in his speech.

Five years after the vast summit on abuse convened at the Vatican in 2019, the head of the Catholic Church called on the commission to ensure that the measures taken since then are implemented. “I have already asked you to ensure compliance with Vos Estis Lux Mundi, so that reliable means are in place for welcoming and caring for victims and survivors,” the Pope stressed, referring to the 2019 Motu proprio that outlined procedures to combat abuse.

Among the measures described is the obligation for every diocese in the world to set up one or more “stable and easily accessible systems” to allow for people to report the sexual abuse of minors.

“In confronting the scandal of abuse and the suffering of victims, we might well grow discouraged, since the challenge of restoring the fabric of broken lives and of healing pain is enormous and complex,” the Pope said. “Yet our commitment must not wane; indeed, I encourage you to move forward, so that the Church will be, always and everywhere, a place where everyone can feel at home and each person is treated as sacred.”

The launch of Memorare

Lastly, Pope Francis mentioned the Memorare initiative, supported by the Commission, which is a funding mechanism for preventing and combating abuse in areas of the Church with limited resources. 

“I am encouraged to see the Memorare initiative taking shape, in cooperation with Churches in many countries around the world,” he said. “In time, this will create a network of solidarity with victims and those who promote their rights, especially where resources and experience are limited.”

At the end of December, the commission spoke about certain projects – mainly training programs – in Paraguay, Panama, the Caribbean, West Africa and Mauritius. These initiatives have been allocated around 251,000 dollars (230,000 euros).

AbusePope FrancisVatican
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