February 9, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service

Summary

- Pope's eighth meeting with the Council of Cardinals

- Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors: make the Church a “safe place” for children

- Angelus: the sick are Christ's flesh

- The Pope denounces the shameful scourge of human trafficking

- In the parish of St. Michael Archangel: maintain daily contact with the Gospel and let Jesus heal our wounds

- To the representatives of EXPO 2015: the root of all ills is inequality

- The Pope: the participation of women in the social and ecclesial spheres is a challenge that cannot be deferred

- God lives in the city

- Francis to the SECAM: Invest in education in Africa to defend the young from fundamentalism and abuse of religion

- Cardinal O'Malley reports on the work of the Commission for the Protection of Minors

- Audiences

Pope's eighth meeting with the Council of Cardinals

Vatican City, 9 February 2015 (VIS) – The eighth meeting of the Council of Cardinals began this morning. To be attended by the Holy Father, the meeting will continue until 11 February. On the following days, Thursday 12 and Friday 13 February, the Consistory of the College of Cardinals is to be held in the Synod Hall.

Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors: make the Church a “safe place” for children

Vatican City, 8 February 2015 (VIS) – The members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors gathered in Plenary Assembly from 6 to 8 February in Rome.

The members who took part in the Assembly are: Cardinal Sean O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., U.S.A., president; Msgr. Robert Oliver, U.S.A., secretary; Rev. Luis Manuel Ali Herrera, Colombia; Catherine Bonnet, France; Marie Collins, Ireland; Gabriel Dy-Liacco, Philippines; Sheila Hollins, England; Bill Kilgallon, New Zealand; Sister Kayula Lesa, M.S.C., Zambia; Sister Hermenegild Makoro, C.P.S., Zimbabwe; Kathleen McCormack, Australia; Claudio Papale, Italy; Peter Saunders, England; Hanna Suchocka, Poland; Krysten Winter-Green, U.S.A.; Rev. Humberto Miguel Yanez, S.J., Argentina and Rev. Hans Zollner, S.J., Germany.

The Pontifical Council subsequently issued the following communique, the full text of which is published below:

“This year’s meeting was the first opportunity for all seventeen members of the recently expanded Commission to come together and share their progress in the task entrusted them by the Holy Father, namely to advise Pope Francis in the safeguarding and protection of minors in the Church.

During the meetings, members presented reports from their Working Groups of experts, developed over the past year. The Commission then completed their recommendations regarding the formal structure of the Commission and agreed upon several proposals to submit to the Holy Father for consideration.

The Working Groups are an integral part of the Commission’s working structure. Between Plenary Sessions, these groups bring forward research and projects in areas that are central to the mission of making the Church ‘a safe home’ for children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults. These include: pastoral care for survivors and their families, education, guidelines in best practice, formation to the priesthood and religious life, ecclesial and civil norms governing allegations of abuse, and the accountability of people in positions of responsibility within the Church when dealing with allegations of abuse.

The Commission is keenly aware that the issue of accountability is of major importance. In its Assembly,members agreed on an initial proposal to submit to Pope Francis for consideration. Moreover, the Commission is developing processes to ensure accountability for everyone in the Church - clergy, religious, and laity - who work with minors.

Part of ensuring accountability is raising awareness and understanding at all levels of the Church regarding the seriousness and urgency in implementing correct safeguarding procedures. To this end, the Commission also agreed to develop seminars to educate Church leadership in the area of the protection of minors.

Following on from the Holy Father’s Letter to Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences and to Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life,dated February 2, the Commission looks forward to collaborating with churches on a local level in making its expertise available to ensure best practices in guidelines for the protection of minors.

The Commission is also preparing materials for a Day of Prayer for all those who have been harmed by sexual abuse. This will underscore our responsibility to work for spiritual healing and also help raise awareness among the Catholic community about the scourge of the abuse of minors.

Pope Francis writes, in his letter to Church leaders, 'families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children'. Conscious of the gravity of our task to advise the Holy Father in this effort, we ask you to support our work with prayer”.

Angelus: the sick are Christ's flesh

Vatican City, 8 February 2015 (VIS) – World Day of the Sick will be held on 11 February, liturgical memory of the Virgin of Lourdes, and the Pope, blessing the preparatory initiatives for the day, and in particular the Vigil to take place in Rome on 10 February, dedicated his meditation prior to this Sunday's Angelus prayer to the meaning and value of illness, recalling that Jesus' main activities in his public life were preaching and healing.

“Through preaching He announces the Kingdom of God and through healing He shows that it is close, that the Kingdom of God is in our midst”, said Pope Francis to the faithful gathered at midday in St. Peter's Square, commenting on the Gospel of St. Mark that narrates the healing of Peter's mother-in-law. After the Sabbath was over and the people could leave and bring Him the sick, He healed a multitude of people afflicted by every kind of malady: physical, mental, spiritual.

“Having come to earth to announce and fulfil the salvation of every person and of all mankind, Jesus shows a particular predilection for those who are wounded in body and spirit: the poor, sinners, the possessed, the sick, the marginalised. He thus reveals Himself has a physician of both body and soul, the good Samaritan of humanity. Jesus' healing of the sick invites us to reflect on the meaning and value of sickness”.

The salvific work of Christ “does not come to an end with His person and the arc of His earthly life; it continues through the Church, sacrament of love and of the tenderness of God for mankind. Sending his disciples on their mission, Jesus confers upon them a dual mandate: to announce the Gospel of salvation and to heal the sick. Faithful to this teaching, the Church has always considered the care of the sick to be an integral part of her mission”.

The Pope emphasised Jesus' warning from the Gospel of St. Matthew - “The poor and the suffering you will always have with you” - and affirmed that “the Church continually finds them on her path, considering the sick as a privileged way to encounter Christ, to welcome and serve Him. To care for a sick person, to welcome him and serve him is to serve Christ. The sick are Christ's flesh”.

In our times, too, despite the many advances in science, “the inner and physical suffering of people raises serious questions on the meaning of sickness, pain and on the reasons for death. These are existential questions, to which the pastoral action of the Church should respond in the light of faith, keeping before our eyes the Cross, in which there appears the entire salvific mystery of God the Father, who out of love for mankind did not spare his only Son. Therefore, each one of us is called to bring the light of the Gospel and the strength of grace to those who suffer and to those who assist them – family members, doctors, nurses – so that service to the sick may be carried out with ever increasing humanity, generous dedication, evangelical love, and tenderness. The Mother Church, through our hands, caresses us in our sufferings, heals our wounds, and does so with a mother's tenderness”.

The Pope denounces the shameful scourge of human trafficking

Vatican City, 8 February 2015 (VIS) – Following today's Angelus prayer, Pope Francis commented that today, 8 February, we celebrate the liturgical memory of St. Josephine Bakhita, the Sudanese nun who as a child suffered the dramatic experience of enslavement. The Union of Superior Generals of religious institutes has established a Day of prayer and reflection against trafficking in persons, to be held on that date.

“I encourage those who are committed to helping men, women and children who are enslaved, exploited and abused as instruments of work or pleasure and often tortured and mutilated. I hope that those who hold positions of responsibility in governance will act decisively to eliminate the causes of this shameful scourge, a scourge unworthy of a civilised society. May each one of us strive to be a voice for these our brothers and sisters, whose dignity is humiliated. Let us pray together to Our Lady, for them and for their families”.

In the parish of St. Michael Archangel: maintain daily contact with the Gospel and let Jesus heal our wounds

Vatican City, 8 February 2015 (VIS) – At 4 p.m. today the Holy Father visited the Roman parish of St. Michael Archangel in the Pietralata quarter, in the north of the city. Upon arrival, he made an impromptu change to the itinerary, paying a surprise visit to a settlement near the parish church, known as the “Rainbow Camp”, the home of many displaced persons from Africa, Latin America, Ukraine and Russia. At the end of his visit, the inhabitants recited the Lord's Prayer with him in Spanish. He then met with members of the parish community: the sick, families with children baptised during the past year, young catechumens, scouts and a number of homeless people cared for by the Sant'Egidio Community.

To the families with recently baptised children, Francis confessed that he liked to hear the cry of newborns as “they are a promise of life”, and that they should not be expected to leave the church when they cry. He also encouraged parents to teach their children the sign of the Cross. He comforted the sick by reminding them that the Lord is always close to them, as “a father never leaves his children alone”, and therefore “we must be trustful, and courageous in our trust … some days everything is bleak … but never lose your trust”. He thanked the homeless for not having given up hope, and for their witness in bearing their cross of solitude. “Beneath so many ashes of suffering, of solitude, know that there is the fire of the Holy Spirit; below, there is the embrace of God's love. And why does the Lord allow there to be this cross? He permitted it first for His Son. And so Jesus understands you well”. He spoke with the young catechumens about war and peace, and encouraged them to pray every day, especially to the Virgin, “Our Mother who will lead us by the hand to find Jesus, to find peace and not to descend into war”. Finally, he answered a question on how he knew whether or not his decision to become a priest was the right one. He compared his inner certainty with what a man and woman might feel when they decide to marry, and explained that in spite of the sacrifices that have to be made and the problems that may appear, love is always stronger. “This certainty comes from Jesus”, he emphasised.

Pope Francis went on to confess some of the faithful, and then proceeded to the church to celebrate Mass. In his homily, the Pope urged those present to listen to Jesus and to let Him preach to them. Jesus “speaks to us in the Gospel”, he said, “and this is a habit we no longer have: to go and seek out the word of Jesus in the Gospel. Always carry a small copy of the Gospel with you, and keep it within reach. Read it whenever you have five or ten minutes to spare: Jesus speaks to us there. Maintain daily contact with the Gospel”. He continued by encouraging those present to allow the Lord to heal their wounds: “open your heart, to let Him enter and heal you”.

To the representatives of EXPO 2015: the root of all ills is inequality

Vatican City, 7 February 2015 (VIS) – On Saturday afternoon Pope Francis sent a video message to the 500 national and international representatives gathered in Milan, where Expo 2015 will be held, to address the theme, “The ideas of EXPO 2015: Towards the Milan Charter”.

In his message, the Pope refers to his address in November to the Conference on Nutrition organised by the the FAO in Rome, in which he affirmed that “interest in the production, availability and accessibility of foodstuffs, climate change and agricultural trade should certainly inspire rules and technical measures, but the first concern must be the individual as a whole, who lacks daily nourishment and has given up thinking about life, family and social relationships, instead fighting for survival”.

“St. John Paul II, in the inauguration in this hall of the First Conference on Nutrition in 1992, warned the international community against the risk of the 'paradox of plenty', in which there is food for everyone, but not everyone can eat, while waste, excessive consumption and the use of food for other purposes is visible before our very eyes. Unfortunately, this 'paradox' remains relevant. There are few subjects about which we find as many fallacies as those related to hunger; few topics as likely to be manipulated by data, statistics, the demands of national security, corruption, or futile lamentation about the economic crisis”.

To overcome the temptation of sophisms, “that nominalism of thought that goes beyond … but never touches reality”, the Pope suggests three practical approaches: turn first to urgent priorities, be witnesses of charity, and be guardians rather than masters of the earth.

“Aim your gaze and heart not towards an emergency pragmatism that shows itself to be perpetually provisional, but instead an approach aimed at removing the structural causes of poverty. Let us recall that the root of all ills is inequality”, says Francis, repeating his words in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium: “we have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. … It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. … The excluded are not the 'exploited' but the outcast, the 'leftovers'”.

“It is therefore necessary, if we really want to solve problems and not become lost in sophisms, to remove the root of all evil, which is inequality. To do this, there are some priority decisions to be made: to renounce the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and to act above all on the structural causes of inequality”.

“Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good”, he continues. “Where, then, should a healthy economic policy begin? What are the necessary pillars for public administration? The answer is precise: the dignity of the human person and the common good. Unfortunately, however, these two pillars, that ought to structure economic policy, often 'seem to be a mere addendum imported from without in order to fill out a political discourse lacking in perspectives or plans for integral development. … Please, be courageous and do not be afraid, in political and economic projects, to allow yourselves to be influenced by a broader meaning of life as this will help you to truly serve the common good and will give you strength in 'striving to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all'”.

With reference to the third point, the Pope again mentioned a comment he heard many years ago from an elderly peasant: “God always forgives; men forgive at times; but the Earth never forgives. We must care for our sister the Earth, our Mother Earth, so that she does not respond with destruction”. “Faced with the goods of the Earth, we are required 'not to lose sight of the origin or purpose of these goods, so as to bring about a world of fairness and solidarity', says the social doctrine of the Church. The Earth has been entrusted to us in order to be a Mother to us, able to give what is necessary for each person to live. … The Earth is not an inheritance we have received from our parents, but rather a loan from our offspring to us, so that we may take care of it, enable it to continue and restore it to them”.

“The stewardship of the Earth is not a task exclusive to Christians, but instead applies to all”, he continued. “I entrust to you what I said during the Mass of the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome: 'I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! … We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness'. Care for the Earth not only with goodness, but also with tenderness”.

The Pope: the participation of women in the social and ecclesial spheres is a challenge that cannot be deferred

Vatican City, 7 February 2015 (VIS) - “Women's cultures: between equality and difference” was the theme of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, an issue of great interest to Pope Francis, as he affirmed this morning while receiving in audience the participants in the event. He reiterated the importance of finding “criteria and new ways to enable women to no longer feel like guests, but instead to be full participants in the various areas of social and ecclesial life”.

“The Church is a woman, she is female!” he exclaimed. “This is a challenge that cannot be deferred. I say this to the pastors of Christian communities, here representing the universal Church, but also to lay women and men engaged in different ways in culture, education, the economy, politics, the world of work, families, and religious institutions”, he continued, offering an “itinerary” and a series of “guidelines to develop this effort throughout the world, in the heart of all cultures, in dialogue with the various religious affiliations”.

With reference to the first theme considered in the Plenary Assembly, “Between equality and difference: the quest for an equilibrium”, Pope Francis remarked that this equilibrium must be harmonious, not merely a question of balance. “This aspect must not be faced ideologically, because the 'lens' of ideology prevents us from seeing reality clearly. Equality and difference of women – like that of men – is best perceived from the perspective of 'with', in relation to, rather than 'against'. We have long left behind, at least in western societies, the model of the social subordination of women to men, a centuries-old model whose negative effects are nonetheless not yet fully spent. We have also left behind a second model, that of parity, pure and simple, applied mechanically, and of absolute equality. A new paradigm has thus taken shape, that of reciprocity in equivalence and in difference. The relationship between man and woman, therefore, must recognise that both are necessary inasmuch as they possess an identical nature but different modalities. One is necessary to the other, since the fullness of the person is thus truly achieved”.

The second theme, “'generativity' as a symbolic code”, broadens the horizons of biological maternity to include the transmission and the protection of life. It may be summarised in four verbs: to wish for, to bring into the world, to care for, and to let go. The Pope acknowledges the contribution in this area of the many women who work in the family, in the field of education in faith, in pastoral activity, in education in schools, and also in social, cultural and economic structures. “You, women, know how to embody the tender face of God, His mercy, which translates into willingness to offer time rather than occupy space, to accommodate rather than exclude. In this sense, I like to describe the feminine dimension of the Church as a welcoming womb for the regeneration of life”.

“The female body: between culture and biology”, the third point for reflection, “reminds us of the beauty and harmony of the body God gave to women, but also the painful wounds inflicted upon them, often with brutal violence, for the mere fact of being women. A symbol of life, the female body is unfortunately not infrequently attacked and disfigured by those who ought instead to be its protectors and companions in life. The many forms of enslavement, commodification and mutilation of women's bodies require us to work to defeat this form of degradation that reduces them to mere objects to be sold on various markets”. “I wish to draw attention, in this respect, to the suffering of many poor women, forced to life in conditions of danger and exploitation, relegated to the margins of society and rendered victims of a throwaway culture”, stressed the Holy Father.

The fourth theme, “Women and religion: flight or new forms of participation in the life of the Church?” is of particular relevance to believers. The Pope reiterated his conviction that it is urgent to “offer space to women in the life of the Church and to welcome them, bearing in mind the specific features and changes in cultural and social sensibilities. A more capillary and incisive female presence within the Church is desirable, so that we can see many women involved in pastoral responsibilities and in accompanying individuals, families and groups, as well as in theological reflection”.

Finally, the Holy Father spoke about the indispensable role of women in the family, and highlighted the importance of “encouraging and promoting the effective presence of women in many areas of the public sphere, in the world of work and in places where the most important decisions are taken”, without prejudice to their role in the private domain. “We must not leave women to bear these burdens and take all these decisions alone; all institutions, including the ecclesial community, must guarantee freedom of choice for women, so that they have the opportunity to assume social and ecclesial responsibilities, in harmony with family life”.

God lives in the city

Vatican City, 9 February 2015 (VIS) – On Saturday Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, “Encountering God in the heart of the city”. This year will be the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of Vatican Council II, and to mark the occasion, the Council is preparing a ceremony to commemorate the publication of the decree on the lay apostolate, Apostolicam actuositatem. “The initiative looks not only to the past, but also the present and the future of the Church”. He remarked that the theme chosen for the assembly reiterates the invitation in Evangelii gaudium to face the challenge of urban cultures, adding that “the phenomenon of urbanisation has now reached global proportions: more than half the world's population lives in cities”.

“The urban context has a strong impact on the mentality, culture, lifestyles, interpersonal relationships and religiosity of the people. In such a varied and complex context, the Church is no longer the sole generator of meaning, and Christians absorb 'languages, symbols, messages and paradigms which propose new approaches to life, approaches often in contrast with the Gospel'”. He emphasised that, despite these risks, we must remember that God has not abandoned cities. “The title of your Plenary underlines the fact that it is possible to encounter God in the heart of the city. … It is therefore imperative not to abandon oneself to pessimism and defeatism, but to have an outlook of faith with regard to our cities, a contemplative gaze 'which sees God dwelling in their homes, in their streets and squares'. God is never absent from the city, as He is never absent from the heart of man!”.

“In the city the terrain for the apostolate is often far more fertile than many might imagine. It is important, therefore, to pay attention to the formation of laypeople: to educate in having this gaze of faith, full of hope, that knows how to see the city through God's eyes … and at the same time it is necessary to nurture in them the desire for witness, so that they can give to others the gift of the faith they have received, accompanying with affection those brothers who are taking their first steps in the life of faith”. Francis commented that Archbishop Giovanni Battista Montini frequently referred to the “search for the essential”, and often urged those involved in the great urban mission of Milan to be essential themselves: “that is, to be genuine, authentic and to live that which truly counts. Only in this way it is possible to propose in its strength, in its beauty, in its simplicity, the liberating proclamation of God's love and the salvation that Christ offers. Only in this way can one adopt that attitude of respect towards people: offering the essential that is the Gospel”.

Francis to the SECAM: Invest in education in Africa to defend the young from fundamentalism and abuse of religion

Vatican City, 7 February 2015 (VIS) – Providing “a common response to the new challenges facing the continent,allowing the Church to speak with one voice and to witness to her vocation as a sign and instrument of salvation, peace, dialogue and reconciliation” is the mission of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), the institution conceived and promoted following Vatican Council II to be at the service of the local churches in Africa. This morning Pope Francis received in audience representatives from the Symposium and, in his address, he emphasised that the institution must “remain faithful to its identity as a vibrant experience of communion and of service to the poorest of the poor”.

“To this end, pastors must remain free from worldly and political concerns, that they continually strengthen the bonds of fraternal communion with the Successor of Peter, through cooperation with the Apostolic Nunciatures, and easy and direct communication with other Church bodies. At the same time, it is necessary to maintain the simple ecclesial experiences available to all, as well as streamlined pastoral structures. Experience teaches that large bureaucratic structures approach problems in the abstract and risk distancing the Church from people. For this reason, it is important to be concrete: that which is concrete is in touch with reality”.

“Above all, it is the youth who need your witness. Young men and women look to us. In Africa, the future is in the hands of the young, who need to be protected from new and unscrupulous forms of 'colonisation' such as the pursuit of success, riches, and power at all costs, as well as fundamentalism and the distorted use of religion, in addition to new ideologies which destroy the identity of individuals and of families. The most effective way to overcome the temptation to give in to harmful lifestyles is by investing in education. Education will also help to overcome a widespread mentality of injustice and violence, as well as ethnic divisions. The greatest need is for a model of education which teaches the young to think critically and encourages growth in moral values. An important component in this educational process is the pastoral care of students: in Catholic or public schools there is a need to unite academic studies with the explicit proclamation of the Gospel”.

“There are various reasons why we are seeing, also in Africa, a trend towards the breakdown of the family. In response, the Church is called to evaluate and encourage every initiative to strengthen the family, which is the real source of all forms of fraternity and the foundation and primary way of peace. More recently, many priests, men and women religious as well as members of the lay faithful have admirably taken responsibility for the care of families, with a special concern for the elderly, the sick and the handicapped. Even in the most distant and remote regions, your local Churches have proclaimed the Gospel of Life and, following the example of the Good Samaritan, have come to the help of those most in need. A magnificent witness to charity has been given in response to the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus, which has struck many communities, parishes and hospitals. Many African missionaries have generously given their lives by remaining close to those suffering from this disease. This path must be followed with renewed apostolic zeal! As followers of Christ, we cannot fail to be concerned for the welfare of the weakest; we must also draw the attention of society and the civil authorities to their plight”.

“Dear brothers, I express my appreciation for the invaluable contribution made by so many priests, men and women religious and lay faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel and the social advancement of your people. SECAM is also a means of promoting respect for the law, so as to ensure that the ills of corruption and fatalism may be healed, and to encourage the efforts of Christians in society as a whole, always in view of the common good. The great work of evangelisation consists in striving to make the Gospel permeate every aspect of our lives so that we, in turn, can bring it to others. For this reason, it must always be borne in mind that evangelisation implies conversion, that is, interior renewal. The process of purification, which is inherent in evangelisation, means accepting the call of Christ to 'repent and believe the Good News'. As a result of this conversion to salvation,not only individuals but the entire ecclesial community is transformed, and becomes an ever greater and more vital expression of faith and charity.

“May the light and the strength of the Holy Spirit sustain your pastoral efforts. May the Virgin Mary protect you and intercede for you and for the entire continent of Africa. To each of you, I give my Apostolic Blessing. Please pray for me”.

Cardinal O'Malley reports on the work of the Commission for the Protection of Minors

Vatican City, 7 February 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, U.S.A. and president of the Commission for the Protection of Minors gave an update this morning in the Holy See Press Office on the work of this entity following the letter sent by Pope Francis on 2 February to the presidents of the episcopal conferences and superiors of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life throughout the world. The cardinal was accompanied by two members of the Commission, Sister Kayula Gertrude Lesa RSC of Zambia, who works with refugees and the victims of human trafficking, and Peter Saunders, founder of the British organisation NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood).

Cardinal O'Malley began by noting that the date on which the Pope sent the letter – the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple “is symbolic as we work to make the Temple a safe place to bring children”, and added that he is writing to the various episcopal conferences to request that each one name a contact person who can help establish a line of communication with the conferences as well as with Religious Superiors. “One of the tasks of the Commission, working with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will be to reach out to help suggest best practices, especially to conferences that are finding it difficult to develop policies. The Commission is also tasked to promote education and child safety programs and to present methods for measuring compliance”.

On Friday, 6 February the first meeting of the full Commission was held, attended by all seventeen members, with new representation from Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania. “I am truly impressed by the wealth of experience and commitment that all the members bring to the Commission”, commented the archbishop of Boston.

“We are currently working to develop seminars to educate Church leadership in the area of child protection”, he continued. “We hope to offer these programs for members of the Roman Curia and for newly appointed bishops who come to Rome from throughout the world, for orientation programs sponsored by the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. The Commission is also preparing materials for a Day of Prayer for all those who have been harmed by sexual abuse. Such an activity underscores our responsibility to work for spiritual healing and also helps raise consciousness among the Catholic community about the scourge of child abuse”.

“We have also begun to reach out to Catholic funding organisations, to ask them to include some requirements concerning child protection in their guidelines for eligibility for funding. Realising that many of the countries that need to do the most work to advance child protection are also often terribly lacking in resources, we are asking the funding organisations to award grants in these counties for establishing child protection programs and providing training for Church personnel”, added Cardinal O'Malley.

The Commission is currently in the process of establishing a series of working groups to call on the expertise of individuals who are not members but can provide valuable assistance. “We have one working group which has been charged with the task of outreach to survivors who might contribute to our efforts by their participation, especially concerning issues of prevention and sound guidelines”, he concluded.

Audiences

Vatican City, 7 February 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

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