Pope Names US Cardinal to Vatican Anti-Abuse Panel

Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 02:16 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley has been named by Pope Francis as one of eight members of the Vatican’s new child protection commission, aimed at taking on the clerical sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church.

The cardinal will be joined on the Commission for the Protection of Minors by Irish laywoman Marie Collins, who was raped at age 13 by a hospital chaplain, the Catholic News Service reports.

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The Pope named three clergy and five lay members, including four women.

The Boston Globe reported that the church has come under fire in recent months for not doing enough to help prevent sexual abuse by priests.

But a Vatican spokesman said the panel reflects Pope John Paul II’s declaration that "there is no place in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm the young."

O’Malley, who is also the sole American in the eight-member Council of Cardinals advising Francis on governing the church, will continue to serve as archbishop in Boston because his new post is not a full-time position, the Globe reported.

When the commission was announced, O’Malley said it would endeavor to educate church leaders on the signs of abuse as well as to weed out potential abusers by a careful screening process, and to encourage Catholic officials to cooperate with police and report crimes to authorities in a timely manner.

Collins, who has been a longtime advocate of sex-abuse victims, revealed during a 2012 address in Rome on the protection of children that being abused by a priest led to depression, despair and a deep loss of trust in the church.

"Those fingers that would abuse my body the night before were the same fingers that would give me Holy Communion the following day," she said.

Collins didn’t report her abuse until years later. When she finally went to church officials, she was told that "protecting the good name" of the priest was more important than remedying a "historical" wrong.

In 1997, the priest who abused her and other young girls over a period of three decades was brought to justice, the CNS reported.

Last year O’Malley’s name kept appearing in the Italian media as a possible candidate to replace Pope Benedict XVI after his sudden retirement.

John Allen, the Vatican correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter, said O’Malley was viewed as a favorite "partly on the strength of his profile as a reformer on the church's sexual-abuse scandals, and partly because of his Capuchin simplicity as a perceived antidote to the Vatican's reputation for intrigue and power games."

Francis: Who Is Pope Francis? Book Reveals the Man

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