The presenters for each country explained the unique cultural challenges they face in preventing abuse and in handling allegations, as well as what policies are currently in place.
In the presentation on Australia, Francis Sullivan, CEO of Truth, Justice and Healing Council, said that in the end, the question of why the sex abuse crisis happened in our Church comes down to cultural problems and to corruption.
Australia's sexual abuse crisis has been one of the most shocking and widely known in the Church. Feb. 6, Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held its final three-week review of how the Catholic Church in Australia has responded to sex abuse allegations.
Referencing a quote from Pope Francis where he said that we don't only need to reform the Church, but also the heart, he said that "child sexual abuse has broken the heart of the Church."
"We have never fully appreciated that the decisions that our leaders made in order to facilitate and cover up (abuse), actually broke the heart of what it means to be Catholic, and we need to go back and fully confront that," he said.
"Let's not distract Church leaders from recognizing that this is a Church problem. Sure, it might happen in other institutions, sure, it happens in families. But the fact that it happened within the Catholic Church says something about the corruption within our Church… That we are not true to what we are meant to be."
Friday the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors begins their next Plenary Assembly, and one of the central topics will be how to ensure that survivors and victims are always the first priority, O'Malley said in his introductory remarks.
"The assembly begins tomorrow and of course that is one of the things we'll be talking about," he told CNA. A meeting of survivors is planned for June that the commission will also be involved in, he said.
Regarding the participation of survivors, Fr. Zollner told CNA that "we need to be informed by survivors and victims, we need to listen to them, and we need to take into account what has been and is their experience."
Other topics at the Plenary Assembly will include how the commission will continue after the mandate concludes at the end of the calendar year, he said, and "we will see what are the structural steps, or the development, we will need so that our journey continues," he said.