Pope’s cardinal advisers discuss Church’s efforts to prevent abuse

Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

December 7, 2022

By Courtney Mares

At Pope Francis’ meeting with his cardinal advisers this week, Cardinal Sean O’Malley reported on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, now within the Roman Curia.

The Holy See press office said on Dec. 7 that the pope met with his council of advisers for a two-day meeting at the current papal residence, the Casa Santa Marta.

The members of the Council of Cardinals discussed the continental phase of the Synod on Synodality and the work of the most recent United Nations Climate Change Conference before listening to O’Malley’s briefing on the protection of minors. 

Earlier this year, Pope Francis made changes to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in his attempt to reform the Roman Curia with the new apostolic constitution Praedicate evangelium.

The constitution placed the pontifical council within the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a move that led abuse survivor Marie Collins to express concern that the reform could lead to the body losing its independence.

O’Malley, who serves as president of the safeguarding commission, defended the independence of the commission and promised at a press conference in April that the commission would continue to “communicate directly to the Holy Father our recommendations and thoughts.”

Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, and Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu also took part in the Dec. 5–6 meeting.

They were joined by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, former president of the Governorate of Vatican City State; and Bishop Marco Mellino, secretary of the Council of Cardinals.

The group of cardinal advisers, formerly referred to as the C9 because it once had nine members, was established by Pope Francis in 2013 to “assist him in the governance of the universal Church” and publication of the new apostolic constitution. Vatican News now refers to the council as the C6.

The pope first established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors at the recommendation of the Council of Cardinals in December 2013 as a papal advisory body to improve the Church’s norms and procedures for the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

The meeting lasted until 7 p.m. on Tuesday night and included an “assessment of the council’s progress in recent years,” according to the Vatican statement. The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals is scheduled for April.