November 23, 2018 - Statement of Cardinal O'Malley
I am grateful for the announcement made this morning regarding the organizing committee for the meeting on the protection of minors in the Church, to be held in Rome in February 2019. The proposal for such a meeting was developed by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was reviewed by the Council of Cardinals and subsequently accepted by the Holy Father. I am pleased that this meeting has been convoked by the Holy Father and I look forward to participating.
The role of the Pontifical Commission is to serve as an advisory body to the Holy Father, making recommendations on best practices for the universal Church for education and prevention programs regarding the crime of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. At the request of the Holy Father the Commission will assist and serve as a resource for the organizing committee.
Among the most important programs of the Commission has been its hosting of meetings between survivors and groups of newly named bishops. These meetings have inspired our view that calling the bishops to Rome for a similar high-impact meeting would be very important in addressing the clergy abuse crisis globally.
This is a critical moment for the universal Church in addressing the sexual abuse crisis. The February meeting will be an important moment for developing a clear path forward for dioceses around the world. We must continue to embrace and practice a commitment to zero tolerance, work for greater transparency including the release of names of clergy accused of abuse and encourage all religious orders to adopt a similar policy and cooperate with civil and legal authorities. Above all else, we must place the support and pastoral care of survivors first. This is a life-long journey that is now part of the fabric of the Catholic family and requires a partnership between the laity and clergy in responding to the failures of episcopal leadership by holding bishops accountable for the crimes against children and vulnerable adults.”