A new Papal Commission for protecting minors from sexual abuse met yesterday in Rome for the first time to discuss its mandate and expand input from more countries, reports the Catholic News Service.
Pope Francis, who established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in December, was to 'greet' the commission members at some point during its May 1-3 deliberations, the Vatican spokesman said on Wednesday.
The Commission, led by US Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, was 'expected to reflect on the nature and aims of the Commission' as well as discuss ways to include additional representatives and input from other parts of the world, said the spokesman.
Cardinal O'Malley, who is also one of eight members of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on the reform of the Roman Curia and governance of the Church, told reporters in December that the Commission would take a pastoral approach to helping victims and preventing abuse.
Given that much of the Vatican's attention thus far had been on implementing policies and legal procedures for investigating allegations of abuse and punishing guilty priests, the Cardinal said the Commission would look at programs to educate pastoral workers in signs of abuse, identify means of psychological testing and other ways of screening candidates for the priesthood, and make recommendations regarding Church officials' cooperation with civil authorities on reporting suspected abuse.
The Commission is currently made up of eight members, including a survivor of clerical sex abuse, mental health professionals and experts in civil and Church law.
Vatican anti-abuse committee begins first meeting (AFP/The West Australian)