Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 09, 2018
Pope Francis poses for a photo with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, during a private audience at the Vatican April 19. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)Pope Francis poses for a photo with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, during a private audience at the Vatican April 19. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

“It is crucial to bring the voice of the victims to the leaders of the church to make everyone understand how important it is for the church to give responses in a rapid and correct manner to every situation of abuse in whatever way it is manifested,” said Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley. The archbishop of Boston said this to Vatican News at the end of the ninth plenary assembly of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was held in Rome, Sept. 7 to 9.

The cardinal, who is president of the P.C.P.M. that was established by Pope Francis in 2014, added that “especially in the light of the present situation, if the church shows itself to be incapable of responding with all its heart and of making this theme a priority, then all our other activities of evangelization, works of charity and of education will feel it”—meaning the negative impact. “That must be the priority on which we concentrate now,” he stated.

Then, in what appeared to be a reference to the grand jury report of the abuse of minors in Pennsylvania and the abuse of a minor by the former cardinal archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, Cardinal O’Malley said, “Recent events in the church have us all focused on the urgent need for a clear response on the part of the church for the sexual abuse of minors.”

“It is crucial to bring the voice of the victims to the leaders of the church.”

He explained that one of the responsibilities of P.C.P.M. is to listen to the victims, and so it invites survivors to address its plenary meetings. This time, he said, the commission heard from a woman from Latin America who was abused by a priest and from the mother of two adult victims from the United States. “The voice of the victims is truly important,” Cardinal O’Malley said.

He said P.C.P.M. members had also addressed a gathering of some new 200 bishops in Rome this past week, which was organized by the Congregations for Bishops and for the Evangelization of Peoples. The bishops were nominated by the pope over the past 12 months.

The cardinal said he had invited Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of clergy abuse, to speak this year, as she had done on past occasions, but she was unable to attend this year’s event. She sent a video recorded message that was greatly appreciated. He said that bishops who had listened to her speak at previous conferences told him that hers was the intervention that touched them most of all.

“The Commission’s starting point is not to investigate abuses; our starting point is to prevent abuses.”

He highlighted the fact that the P.C.P.M. is developing instruments of verification for bishops’ conferences when they come on their five-yearly visits to the Holy See, by which they can show that they have created guidelines for the protection of minors and vulnerable persons that have been asked for by the pope and the Holy See.

A press statement released by the P.C.P.M. said members “reflected on the recent developments in the global church that have negatively affected so many people including victims/survivors, families and the community of faithful.” It said the questions raised in recent months “not only focus the public on the seriousness of abuse, they are an opportunity to call people to the mission of prevention so that the future will be different from our history.”

The statement underlined that “the Commission’s starting point is not to investigate abuses; our starting point is to prevent abuses.”

It underlined that one of the P.C.P.M.’s responsibilities is to work with survivors, and it is establishing pilot projects for this purpose in different countries, starting with Brazil, “as a mechanism to create safe spaces and transparent processes by which people who have been abused can come forward.”

P.C.P.M. members have participated in over 100 safeguarding workshops in churches in different countries as a way of helping the local church prevent abuse.

In 2019, the P.C.P.M. will sponsor a safeguarding conference for church leaders in Central and Eastern Europe. In April of that year, it will also work with the Brazilian bishops’ conference and offer a week of safeguarding formation for bishops and formators, in Aparecida, Brazil. In November 2019, P.C.P.M. members will address a meeting of the Latin America bishops in Mexico. In 2020, it will co-sponsor a congress on the protection of minors in the Americas in Bogotá, Colombia.

The statement said the commission will have meetings with the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Italian Bishops conference “to further collaborative efforts in the field of child protection.”

Pope Francis established the P.C.P.M. in 2014 to advise him on actions to be taken to combat the abuse of minors in the church and to assist bishops’ conferences worldwide in the work of safeguarding children and the prevention of abuse. He renewed the commission’s mandate in February of this year and appointed 16 members (eight men and eight women) from 15 countries, including survivors who asked that their identities not be made public.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Sister Lea Hunter
5 years 7 months ago

BEYOND DAMAGE CONTROL AND CHURCH STRUCTURAL REFORM: THEOLOGY SUPPORTS SEX/POWER ABUSE? https://ritebeyondrome.com/2018/08/28/beyond-damage-control-and-church-structural-reform-theology-supports-sex-power-abuse/

Gay Timothy O'Dreary
5 years 7 months ago

Investigate Archbishop Charles Chaput. Laicize him for protecting abusive priests and advocating clericalism. Rid the US Church of clericalist bishops like Charles Chaput. Protect our children and families from enabler bishops and predatory clerics

“We stand by our vote for statute of limitations reform
Rep. Madeleine Dean, Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, Rep. Patrick J. Harkins, Rep. Mark Rozzi June 22, 2016 | 11:52 AM

As members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and as Catholics, we voted in favor of H.B. 1947. We stand by that vote.

And we are disappointed by Archbishop Charles Chaput and seven other Pennsylvania bishops' June 6th letter to all parishes – including our own – arguing for the protection of church assets and dollars over justice for the victims of child sexual abuse – and for attempting to cast our vote as an attack on the church.”

Gay Timothy O'Dreary
5 years 7 months ago

Laicize Archbishop Charles Chaput for ignoring victims of abuse and hiding the truth several years later
Chaput is the true hypocrite and must be held accountable to all victims, known or still silent
“Catholic Church lobbying hard against child sex abuse bill”
“We are in the midst of a broad Catholic Church lobbying campaign to squash House Bill 1947, which passed the House in April and would eliminate the statute of limitations for criminal cases of child sexual abuse and extend the statute for civil cases until the victim reaches age 50, retroactively, from the present age 30.

This latest effort to persuade Catholics to pressure legislators comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares for a hearing Monday on the bill's constitutionality and gets nearer to a promised vote.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput and others have been encouraging Catholic pastors to read or distribute lobbying materials at their church services. This spring, I criticized a similar effort by Allentown Bishop John Barres, whose letter opposing HB 1947 was inserted into church bulletins to the dismay of some local parishioners.”

Gay Timothy O'Dreary
5 years 7 months ago

Charles Chaput is a dishonorable bishop and a grandstanding hypocrite
No wonder he defends Vigano and ignores the Vicar od Christ - Chaput distracts from his own soiled hands and the pain he has caused victims of sexual abuse

“Catholic Church Confronts Significant Revisions To Statute Of Limitations”
May 17, 2016 at 8:20 pm Filed Under:Archbishop Charles Chaput, Catholic Archdiocese, Joe Holden, Statute of Limitations

“In what the archdiocese billed as a private gathering between Archbishop Charles Chaput and scores of priests, sources inside St. Helena in Blue Bell say Chaput, the leader of the church and its 1.4 million Catholics addressed statute of limitations reform in Harrisburg.

“We’ve had so many secret meetings in secret agendas, all we are asking for is transparency,” said Karen Polesir of SNAP.”


Tim O'Leary
5 years 7 months ago

George - the literature says most homosexuals have had experiences as teenagers with older adult homosexuals. Which side of that equation might you have been on? You might need that statute of limitations before you're done. Just sayin'. What are the odds?

gerald nichols
5 years 7 months ago

That seems a strange twist of affairs--- "defends Vigano" against PF, while also supporting keeping statute of limitations? How convoluted!

J Rabaza
5 years 7 months ago

We had a beautiful and touching “listening session” today at our parish, led by the pastor, after each of the Sunday liturgies. They were well attended and people (at least the one I attended) were transparent, angry, stated they want the US Catholic Bishops to show they reject clericalism and drop their “untouchables” mindset, to open up all of their chanceries so that state attorneys can look through their files of possible abuse, and reject the attack by conservatives on the Vicar of Christ. Many expressed disgust for Vigano and how conservatives like Charles Chaput, Raymond Burke and EWTN are using the pain of sexually abused victims to further their politically laden agenda of pre-Vatican II culture. No one at my church had anything good to say about Vigano - persona non-gratta. Everyone agreed to focus on the Sacraments, to pray for the Holy Father and to not allow anti-Papacy zealots to cause division. thus our session ended on an upbeat, hopeful note.

NB: Some Catholic attorneys attended and they informed us that Abp Charles Chaput is trying to protect the pedophile abusive priests and guilty bishops by advocating in the Pennsylvania legislator and courts not to allow the statute of limitations be expanded to allow victims redress.

“Harrisburg lawmakers need to act on proposals still being fought by the state’s Catholic bishops — most vocally by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput — that would waive civil statutes for a brief period to allow those victims to seek justice.”


Tim O'Leary
5 years 7 months ago

Guill-te Lucre - You are a partisan of the worst type, attacking Archbishop Chaput regarding the statute of limitations, as if this was his special cause, when the ACLU, many legal organizations and institutions oppose an unlimited statute of limitations to protect the innocent (see link). In Pennsylvania, the current of limitations allows victims of child sex abuse to come forward with criminal allegations until they are 50 years old, vs 23 years old in NY, vs. 6 months after the abuse for a public school. The Supreme Court in 2003, in Stogner v. California ruled that states cannot retroactively remove criminal statutes of limitations to make it easier to prosecute child sex abuse cases. Did the lawyers tell you that it cannot be retrospective, and that it was now up to age 50? Did they tell you they wanted it applied to public schools or government institutions, who because of their “sovereign immunity” law enacted in PA in 1980, gives 6 months for filing a complaint and limits damages to “$250,000 in favor of any plaintiff or $1,000,000 in the aggregate.” The AP uncovered roughly 17,000 official reports of sex assaults by students over a 4-year period, from fall 2011 to spring 2015.

Stogner v. California https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/539/607.html
PA Sovereign Immunity https://www.wolfbaldwin.com/Commercial-Litigation-Articles/Sovereign-Immunity-in-PA.shtml
ACLU 17,000 cases in 4 years: https://www.boston.com/news/national-news/2017/05/01/ap-uncovers-17000-reports-of-sexual-assaults-at-schools-across-us “Some administrators and educators even engaged in cover-ups to hide evidence of a possible crime and protect their schools’ image. “No principal wants their school to be the rape school, to be listed in the newspaper as being investigated. Schools try to bury it. It’s the courageous principal that does the right thing,” said Dr. Bill Howe, a former K-12 teacher who spent 17 years overseeing Connecticut’s state compliance with Title IX, the federal law used to help protect victims of sexual assault in schools.”

James Haraldson
5 years 7 months ago

Clearly you and the other Catholic anti-Catholic bigots at your parish have it backwards when you seek to protect the ultimate clericalist abuser in Pope Francis who rehabilitates known abusers and pro-aborts so long as they advance his agenda of undermining Catholic morality. Your use of an idiotic term like "conservative" to describe a Catholic who is Catholic reveals your state of bigoted attitudes towards Catholic morality.

Trent Shannon
5 years 7 months ago

You and Tim are the sickening, projecting partisan pestilence, with no care or concern for survivors, let alone the church moving forward.

Where is the spirit of Christ in you? Your mercy? Your care for the suffering? The acknoweldgement of the suffering Christ endured to understand our pain and give us an example to live on despite our trauma?

You are dividers and haters, bigoted in the extreme, so irony impaired you dont realise that your toxic views are true hatred, a call to arms for the "good ol' days" of fag bashing, a cry for a "straights only" church...

Tim O'Leary
5 years 7 months ago

Trent - calm down. I do not associate myself with those who are calling Pope Francis an enabler or worse, or to resign. I fully support the Holy Father's dual approach of 1) showing mercy to truly repentant sinners and 2) wanting to ensure that the future clergy are following Church teaching and their vow of celibacy. I just think Pope Francis has made some serious personnel errors, as the recent examples show. He would certainly not be the first pope to do so. Where I depart from you is in the idea that LGBT alone should have a special waiver from chastity or, if priests, celibacy (https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2018/05/24/pope-doesnt-want-practicing-gays-in-seminaries-reports-say/). The Church is more committed in their salvation than you seem to be.

Esperanza Y Paz
5 years 7 months ago

Cardinal O'Malley sadly is tone deaf. The flock no longer will stand for the wolves and alpha wolves to police themselves. It will be the sheep and some of the good shepherds who will need to do that. The sooner this is understood by the wolves and handed off, the sooner the healing can begin.

Michael Barberi
5 years 7 months ago

This article is about the victims and rightly so. However, it is telling that Cardinal O'Malley did not call for an investigation of the 3 past popes, bishops and cardinals implicated in the scandal (PA Grand Jury Report, McCormick's sexual abuse and promotion to Cardinal and Vigano letter)......and to hold accountable those guilty of coverup, crimes and immoral actions and grossly negligent inactions.

We need structural, process and juridical reforms. We may also need an apostolic international lay oversight committee to ensure these types of things never happen again.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 7 months ago

Michael - you are right that Cardinal O'Malley only spoke about sex abuse of minors, or half of the problem. But, in his defense, that is the remit of his committee. I fully endorse your call for "structural, process and juridical reforms" and, if feasible, "an apostolic international lay oversight committee."

Michael Barberi
5 years 7 months ago


It is disingenuous and not a defense of O'Malley that the responsibilities of this committee is limited to the sexual abuse of minors by priests and not bishops or cardinals . For one thing, McCarrick is clergy and he abused a minor as well as adult seminarians. IMO, not to mention the past 3 popes, as well as others involved in the McCarrick scandal, appears to be an egregious mis-step. In other words, O'Malley should have said "something" about not investigating the involvement of the past 3 popes to avoid the "appearance" of a coverup or giving this committee a pass because it involved a Cardinal here and not a priest.

Luis Gutierrez
5 years 7 months ago

The clergy sexual abuse crisis cannot be fixed by the bishops hiding behind the walls of ecclesiastical patriarchy and trying to produce some magic of transparency and accountability. If the Pope and all the bishops resign, and are replaced by another ecclesiastical patriarchy, in a few years we are going to have another crisis. The sexual abuse crisis might be the "violent earthquake" that liberates the Catholic Church from the patriarchal culture (cf. Romans 8:28, Acts 16:26ff).

For your consideration:

Sexual Abuse Crisis & Ordination of Women

The Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," but not necessarily patriarchal. For the redemption, and the sacramental economy, the masculinity of Jesus is as incidental as the color of his eyes. The Vatican should stop fabricating patriarchal doctrines and allow Christ to call women to the priesthood and the episcopate. It is time for a new reformation to discard the patriarchal scaffolding that obscures the Catholic faith.

gerald nichols
5 years 7 months ago

No, you are misguided. In the verses, you quoted there is no priesthood involved whatsoever.

Mike Brooks
5 years 7 months ago

Let's see, the Church deems sodomy to be a sinful act and Pope Francis has affirmed the Church's position that men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies should not become priests. The Jay Report indicates that around 80% of the sex abuse victims were male, and there have been books written on homosexual sodomy between priests and seminarians as being commonplace in at least some seminaries.

The rapid solution to this problem is not hard to determine, folks. When the safety of children and the very survival of the Church is at issue, there are going to be some innocent homosexual priests who will have to turn in their collars and re-apply for admission to the priesthood. Certainly those priests can understand the importance of such drastic measures, and if not, then they have no business being priests in the first place.

Gay Timothy O'Dreary
5 years 7 months ago

Mike, why are you fixated on sodomy? Is sex all that you consider 24/7?
Consider reflecting on something other than sex. Pride, Wrath, Gluttony, Sloth....these should keep you busy for a good century or so

Mike Brooks
5 years 7 months ago

Hmmm, there's a sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, 80% of the abuse committed by priests on underage men. And there are reports of sexual acts among priests and novitiates in seminaries. What else but "sodomy" would you call those acts? And is not sexual abuse (i.e., sodomy) the topic of this post?

I my opinion, male-on-male sodomy is THE issue with the Catholic Church right now, threatening its very existence. Wake up and pay attention.

J Rabaza
5 years 7 months ago

Hmmmm, Mike shows us what truly ails our world: ignorance and bigotry.
Sex is not the problem but rather a dark and closed heart: pride.

You obviously havent read the John Jay Report anymore than reading the Bible:
“The clinical data do not support the hypothesis that priests with a homosexual identity or those who com- mitted same-sex sexual behavior with adults are sig- nificantly more likely to sexually abuse children than those with a heterosexual orientation or behavior.”, John Jay Report, page 119

“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.

"From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile."

There is no reason for stupidity when you have access to the internet. Thus your problem is THE issue within the Catholic Church right now: pride.
Nothing changes with time.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 7 months ago

Guillermo - That exculpatory paragraph was put in by McCarrick and his allies. Here is Frank Keating, the layman who resigned form the National Review Board, speaking to Rod Dreher: "Keating told me that he concluded during his time on the Review Board that the bishops did not grasp that the problem in the Church was not just child molesters, “but also actively practicing homosexuals who simply couldn’t stop going after people. If you want to be a priest, you have to be celibate. I’m sure many, many good men were celibate and saintly, but a lot of them weren’t.”

A Fielder
5 years 7 months ago

Wow, lots of drama here. I have a comment on the article, if that is still allowed. Thanks to Cardinal O’Malley for this push in the right direction. I was starting to consider that Francis, with his call for silence, might not get around to taking the steps. But alas, it looks like there will be some, hopefully serious, conversations on the horizon.

The latest from america

U.S. Catholics are more polarized than ever in how they view Pope Francis, even though majorities on both ends of the political spectrum have a positive view of the pope, according to a new survey.
In this special round table episode of “Inside the Vatican,” America Editor-in-Chief Father Sam Sawyer and the Executive Director of Outreach, America’s LGBT Catholic resource, Michael O’Loughlin, join host Colleen Dulle for a discussion on the document “Dignitas Infinita” and the pastoral
Inside the VaticanApril 12, 2024
Miles Teller stars in a scene from the movie "Whiplash." (CNS photo/courtesy Sony Pictures Classics)
Played by Miles Teller, Andrew falls prey to an obsession so powerful that it robs us of the clarity or freedom to make good choices.
John DoughertyApril 12, 2024
In one way or another, these collections bear the traces of the divine, of the needful Christ.
Delaney CoyneApril 12, 2024