There was a “meeting point” at the Holy See press office last week to present the Vatican’s new “task force” for helping bishops’ conferences and religious orders craft abuse policy.
Briefly, what journos in attendance learned was that a coterie of experts – not named – will be coordinated by Andrew Azzopardi, an experienced Maltese social worker with a day job as the head of the Maltese Church’s child protection outfit, and “supervised” by Cardinals Oswald Gracias and Blase Cupich, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and the CDF, and Fr Hans Zollner SJ of the Gregorian University’s Centre for Child Protection. Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra in the Secretariat of State will be the curial point man.
The task force will be at the service of the conferences and orders. It will not actively review progress, but will act upon request.
Both the press release and the figures available to journalists at the “meeting point” – Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and the aforementioned Andrew Azzopardi – were short on details, and one may be forgiven the impression that they don’t really have their heads around how this outfit will actually go about whatever it is supposed to do.
The task force has a budget, but no one could say what it is, or where the money comes from, beyond the “benefactors” noted – but also not named – in the press release.
Veteran Vatican beat reporter John Allen wrote an analysis for Crux, in which he framed the business between A Tale of Two Cities – the best of times, the worst of times – and Remembrance of Things Past. “Because,” he wrote, “it can’t help but feel a little like we’ve been here before.”
One is tempted to put the business rather in a Shakespearian register: Much Ado about Nothing, a play the success of which on the stage really depends on the strength of the actors.