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Pope Francis restores Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

Cardinal O'Malley at a Vatican press conference (CNS)

Pope Francis has reconstituted the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, appointing nine new members alongside eight returning ones.

In an announcement on 17 February, the Vatican said Cardinal Seán O’Malley would continue as president of the commission which fell in abeyance in December after its mandate expired.

Survivors of clerical sex abuse are among the members of the new commission, however the Vatican has decided not to state which ones.

“As has always been the Commission’s practice, the PCPM upholds the right of each person to disclose their experiences of abuse publicly or not to do so,” the Vatican said. “The members appointed today have chosen not do so publicly, but solely within the Commission. The PCPM firmly believes that their privacy in this matter is to be respected.”

The new members are:

  • Prof. Benyam Dawit Mezmur (Ethiopia)
  • Sr. Arina Gonsalves, RJM (India)
  • Hon. Neville Owen (Australia)
  • Ms. Sinalelea Fe’ao (Tonga)
  • Prof. Myriam Wijlens (Netherlands)
  • Prof. Ernesto Caffo (Italy)
  • Sr. Jane Bertelsen, FMDM (UK)
  • Ms. Teresa Kettelkamp (USA)
  • Mr. Nelson Giovanelli Rosendo Dos Santos (Brazil)

The returning members are:

  • Dr. Gabriel Dy-Liacco (Philippines)
  • Bishop Luis Manuel Alí Herrera (Colombia)
  • Fr. Hans Zollner, SJ (Germany)
  • Prof. Hannah Suchocka (Poland)
  • Sr. Kayula Lesa, RSC (Zambia)
  • Sr. Hermenegild Makoro, CPS (South Africa)
  • Mons. Robert Oliver (USA)

The new panel’s first meeting will be in April and involve a private meeting with people who have experienced abuse.

Cardinal O’Malley said: “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has given much prayerful consideration in nominating these members. The newly appointed members will add to the Commission’s global perspective in the protection of minors and vulnerable adults.

“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.”