Vatican Renews Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors
Created in March of 2014, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was created to propose initiatives that could protect children from sexual abuse within the church. Since its creation, none of its proposals have been implemented and it has received considerable scrutiny amid Pope Francis’ general lack of action towards accountability for abusers and justice for survivors. Marie Collins, a former member of the commission and an abuse survivor, resigned in March of 2017 in part due to the Vatican’s “fine words in public and contrary actions behind closed doors.” In January 2018, Pope Francis refused to meet with protesters who criticized his appointment of Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid of Osorno, Chile, a bishop who has been accused repeatedly of covering up abuses made by his friend and mentor, Father Fernando Karadima. Pope Francis faced backlash in 2016 for summarily dismissing the concerns of survivors, urging the church to “not be carried away by the noses of the leftists, who are the ones who put this thing together,” and again found his handling of church abuse in the spotlight as a result of his January visit to Chile. Seemingly in response, the pope appointed Archbishop Charles Scicluna to investigate new information in the case of Bishop Barros. Also in February, the Vatican revived the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors after its initial appointments ended in December 2017. The new commission removes six former members that Marie Collins has described as “the most active and independent members of the commission” and adds nine new members, including civil and canon law scholars, two nuns and a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry.