Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has instituted the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, as announced on 5 December 2013, and has invited the following people to be members: Catherine Bonnet, France; Marie Collins, Ireland; Sheila Hollins, United Kingdom; Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap., United States; Claudio Papale, Italy; Hanna Suchocka, Poland; Humberto Miguel Yanez S.J., Argentina; and Hans Zollner, S.J., Germany.
Their principal task will be to prepare the Commission's statutes, which will define its competence and functions. The Commission will subsequently be joined by other members, nominated from various geographical areas of the world.
Marie Collins, who suffered sexual abuse as a child and brought the priest responsible to justice in 1997, is the co-founder of the Marie Collins Foundation, an NGO providing help and legal assistance to victims of abuse and their families. Sheila Hollins is emeritus professor of Psychiatry and former president of the British Medical Assocation. Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap. is archbishop of Boston, U.S.A., and is well-known for his efforts for the protection of childhood and is a member of the Apostolic Visitation of dioceses and seminaries in Ireland in 2010. Claudio Papale is a lawyer and professor in the faculty of canon law at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome. Hanna Suchocka, former prime minister of Poland (1992-1993), is a professor at the University of Poznan, specialising in constitutional law, and the author of various texts on human rights. The Jesuit Fr. Manuel Yanez is professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian and Urbaniana Universities. Fr. Hans Zollner,S.J., psychotherapist and psychologist, is the academic vice-rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, director of the Institute of Psychology, and chair of the Steering Committee of the Institute's “Centre for Child Protection”.
The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., commented that by the institution of this Commission, Pope Francis has made it clear that the Church considers the protection of minors as a priority issue. “In the certainty that the Church must play a crucial role in this field, and looking to the future without forgetting the past, the Commission will adopt a multiple approach to promoting the protection of minors, which will include education for the prevention of the exploitation of children, legal procedures relating to offences against minors, civil and canonical duties and responsibilities, and the development of 'best practices' as defined and developed in society as a whole”.