The Cardinal receives correspondence from around the world on a variety of issues, requests for prayer intentions, invitations, commentary on the Church among others and at times confidential matters. With regard to inquiries addressed to the Cardinal in his role as Chair of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children and received at the Archdiocese of Boston Pastoral Center, the process has been for his priest secretary to review the correspondence and respond on matters that fell outside the mandate of the Commission.
Recently, the Cardinal has revised the protocol for receipt of Commission related matters. He will now personally review all letters that come to his office related to the commission or are abuse related, even if they address matters outside his authority. He has made a commitment to refer those requiring attention to the Nuncio to the United States and/or the Vatican.
It is important to understand what the Commission’s role is in regard to the issue of sexual abuse. It is not a body that has the authority to review and adjudicate individual cases. There are other bodies in the Vatican, such as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or the Congregation for Bishops, that review, investigate and adjudicate cases involving sexual abuse. The Commission is an advisory panel whose mission is clear and focused on three main areas and share them now with all Episcopal Conferences and the laity: Healing and Care, Guidelines and Education. More information is available here at http://www.protectionofminors.va/content/tuteladeiminori/en.html.
We recognize that this can be frustrating to many because of the seriousness of these matters. But the Church has established lines of authority that, while at times are bureaucratic and difficult to navigate, are currently in place. This is one of the reasons the Commission proposed a panel to investigate and address the behavior and decisions of bishops who fail to act appropriately. It is also why the Cardinal and the Commission support a zero-tolerance policy across the universal Church and continue to work closely in advising the Holy Father to break through the bureaucracy and implement significant change.
Fr Kickham is an essential and valued member of the Cardinal’s senior staff. He has the full faith and confidence of the Cardinal and the support of his brother priests, countless members of the faithful and his colleagues in the Archdiocese of Boston.