The center was launched in 2011 by the Pontifical Gregorian University in collaboration with the Diocese of Munich and Freising, as well as the University of Ulm’s departments of psychiatry and infant and adolescent psychotherapy.
The establishment of the center followed the symposium “Toward healing and renewal,” organized by the Pontifical Gregorian University; several Vatican authorities, the representatives of 110 bishops’ conferences, and more than 30 religious orders took part in the symposium.
The conference’s main goal was not to prepare new norms to prevent abuse, but rather to move from juridical norms to widespread practice.
The symposium’s first effects were the establishment of the Center for the Protection of Minors and the publishing of a book collecting the lectures delivered at the meeting.
Examining the symposium participants, it becomes evident that Pope Francis shaped the Pontifical Commission on the Center for the Protection of Minors.
Fr. Hans Zollner is president of the Jesuit center, and is among the members of the Pontifical Commission.
Also on the commission is Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who has done much to support the protection of minors and the credibility of the Church.
Marie Collins presented on her own experiences at the symposium; she helped author the minor protection guidelines adopted by the Church in Ireland. Collins’ paper presented at the Pontifical Gregorian University was co-authored by Sheila Hollins, who has also been appointed to the commission.
Another appointment to the commission is Claudio Papale, who teaches canon law at the Pontifical Urban University, holding classes the delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The other members are: Hanna Suchocka, a former prime minister and Polish ambassador to the Holy See, a human rights experts chosen for her knowledge of international law; Catherine Bonnet, a French pedopsychiatrist awarded with the Legion d’Honneur, who has gained a solid reputation as counsellor on the abuse of minors since 1996; and Fr. Humberto Miguel Yáñez, a professor of moral theology and a longtime friend of Pope Francis.
This group of eight is called to work in issuing the statutes of the Commission and giving the commission a final shape, pointing out its goals and responsibilities and proposing new candidates for the board of the commission.
In sketching the statutes, the eight members will also have to deal with legal problems.
Card. O’Malley explained in a December press briefing that the commission will “study programs currently in place for the protection of children; formulate suggestions for new initiatives on the part of the Curia, in collaboration with bishops, episcopal conferences, religious superiors and conferences of religious superiors; and identify qualified persons for the systematic implementation of these new initiatives.”
The appointments made to the newly established Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors show that Pope Francis has modeled it on the Jesuit’s Center for the Protection of Minors.
Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors