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Vatican’s Commission for Child Protection: ‘WE FACE A CHALLENGING TASK’

February 22, 2016 ·  By Sheila Hollins for


p08British abuse survivor Peter Saunders has taken leave of absence from Pope Francis’ special commission on child protection and has complained that it is flawed and secretive. Here a member of the commission, who worked closely with Saunders, highlights its struggles and achievements

The most important part of our mandate as members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, as set out by Pope Francis, is to do “everything possible to ensure that crimes such as those which have occurred are no longer repeated in the Church”.

As members we are tasked with studying current systems and guidelines, advising the Pope on best international practice and changes that may need to be implemented for safeguarding. We have also been asked to assist local churches in all parts of the world to understand the importance of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, and to help them to develop their own initiatives, such as those in place in the UK.

Our mandate includes a commitment to observe professional confidentiality to ensure that we can debate matters of concern. There is no “gagging clause” and members are free to speak to the media, but we have agreed to maintain professional confidentiality during our discussions. As our proposals and work programmes develop, we are committed to sharing these openly. We have no mandate to judge individual cases of clerical abuse, and we do not in any way have responsibility for overseeing the Vatican departments that deal with sexual crimes or other forms of abuse.

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