Australian joins Pope’s safeguarding commission

Neville Owen (ACU/The Record)

Neville Owen, chair of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, is one of eight new members appointed to Pope Francis’s renewed clergy sexual abuse commission. Source: TJHC.

The 17-member Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, headed by Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, is the Pope’s peak advisory body on clerical sexual abuse and child protection issues.

Mr Owen is a former senior judge of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

Francis Sullivan, chief executive of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, said the appointment of Mr Owen to the commission was significant and insightful.

“Having worked with Neville for more than three years in his capacity as Chair of the TJHC I am confident he will bring unique insights and experience to the commission," Mr Sullivan said.

“There are few people, anywhere in the world, who have both a deep understanding of the Catholic Church and of the clerical child sexual abuse crisis which has had such an impact on it over the past decades.”

A statement from the commission said its new members were chosen “from a multi-disciplinary field of international experts in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults from the crime of sexual abuse.”

Members come from several different countries, “reflecting the global reach of the Church and the challenge of creating safeguarding structures in diverse cultural contexts,” the commission said.

The statement said it was understood some of the members are abuse survivors but had not publicly identified themselves. The commission said it "believes that their privacy in this matter is to be respected."

Mr Sullivan thanked Kathleen McCormack, a child protection expert from Wollongong who is leaving the Pontifical Commission, for her tireless work.

“Kath is one of Australia’s greatest advocates for stronger child protections in our schools, homes, parishes and other places run by the Catholic Church. We all owe her a debt of gratitude for the three years she has been on the commission,” Mr Sullivan said.

The next meeting of the Pontifical Commission, in April, will begin with a meeting with some survivors of sexual abuse.


TJCH chair appointed to Pope's peak child protection council (Truth Justice and Healing Council)

Pope Francis appoints new members to Commission for Protection of Minors (Vatican News)

Francis renews abuse commission but does not reappoint six members (NCR Online)

Pope reappoints O’Malley to head further work of safeguarding commission (CNA)

Former Ballarat Christian Brother left abuse victims 'broken and traumatised', court hears (ABC News)

Victims of notorious St John of God Brother laugh, cry and cheer on dramatic day (Newcastle Herald)

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