The 17th Ordinary Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors concluded with a clear mandate from Pope Francis. Below Commission President Cardinal O’ Malley’s statement to press.

“On behalf of the commission I would like to welcome you all and thank you for coming today. I am happy to offer a few words in light of our Plenary Assembly and the Audience with the Holy Father that we have just left. And then I have to excuse myself but some of our Commissioners will remain.

The commission had a very fruitful few days mostly reflecting on the work done over the last four years by the Commission and looking ahead now that the Holy Father has issued his Apostolic Constitution Predicate Evangelium.

We were very heartened today as always are with the encouragement from the Holy Father. For the first time, the Pope has placed the importance of child protection as core of the Church’s central government. We thanked him for his constant support. The Holy Father told us that the autonomy of the Commission is meant to ensure the integrity of its expertise and especially its advice to the Holy Father on these delicate matters.

The Holy Father has given the commission a clear mandate to animate the entire Church from within the Roman Curia on the subject of child protection. In addition to a clear focus on the important role that Guidelines should play in Dioceses and Religious Orders, the Holy Father wants us to ensure that survivors receive a welcome and an open door when they appeal to the local church in their country. Outreach to survivors needs a priority for every part of our Church. We will be working on establishing survivor support services at the level of each national church according to the instructions found in Vos Estis Lux Mundi.

At this watershed moment in the life of the Commission I would like to that all those who have labored with us over the last four years. Because of your efforts the work of protection has been strengthened and we look forward to a more effective role for the Commission in our Church both here in Rome and around the world. For this we thank our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

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