Pope names Cardinal O’Malley, seven others to Vatican anti-abuse commission

Boston, MA 020614 Cardinal Sean O'Malley interviewed on February 6, 2014 at the the Cathedral's rectory.(Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff)/ MET
Boston, MA 020614 Cardinal Sean O'Malley interviewed on February 6, 2014 at the the Cathedral's rectory.(Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff)/ MET
The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe reports:

Pope Francis today named Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston and seven other figures with reputations as reformers to guide a new Vatican anti-abuse commission, a move intended to demonstrate resolve about confronting the child sexual abuse scandals that have rocked Catholicism.

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Francis selected lay and religious experts for the commission, which will advise him on sex abuse policy, the Associated Press reports.

The eight members, four of them women, were announced after Francis came under fire from victims' groups for a perceived lack of attention to the abuse scandal, which has seriously damaged the Catholic Church's reputation around the world and cost dioceses and religious orders billions of dollars in legal fees and settlements.

The creation of the commission was first announced by O’Malley in December when he met with Francis at the Vatican. O’Malley said then that the commission would study programs to protect children, train church personnel, and better screen priests to keep abusers out of the clergy.

The Religion News Service reported:

The commission's to-do list will include: setting standards on reporting crimes to civil authorities; screening candidates for the priesthood and ministry; educating church workers about abuse and establishing rules for dealing with allegations; pastoral care for victims and their families; communicating news of abuse to the community; and the "supervision and rehabilitation of clergy guilty of abuse."

The other members of the commission include:

- Marie Collins, a sex abuse victim from Ireland who campaigned for accountability in the church

- Baroness Sheila Hollins, a British psychiatrist

- Catherine Bonnet, a French consultant in child psychiatry

- Hanna Suchocka, Poland’s longtime former ambassador to the Vatican

- Claudio Papale, an Italian canon lawyer and official of the Vatican’s congregation that handles sex abuse cases

- Rev. Humberto Miguel Yáñez, an Argentine Jesuit who studied with Francis and head of moral theology at the Gregorian

- Rev. Hans Zollner, a psychologist and psychotherapist who also serves on Germany’s roundtable on child abuse

Boston was the focal point of the US clergy sex abuse scandal that erupted in 2002. A crucial point of criticism against the Catholic Church centered on bishops failing to hold abusive priests accountable. It is unclear if the new commission will handle disciplining bishops who cover up abuse, the Associated Press reports.