Church's Commitment to protect children and youth remains strong, Cardinal George says


During the Spring meeting of the USCCB being held at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, vice president of the USCCB, announced that the revised text of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People expresses the ongoing commitment of the bishops to prevent the abuse of minors in the future.

Cardinal George, who headed the delegation of US bishops that recently met with Vatican officials to discuss a revised version of the Charter, said during Thursday's session that both the Vatican and the US Bishops delegations agreed that the revised Charter must be marked by three commitments: "a commitment to reach out to those who has been victimized, to start with them a process of psychological, spiritual and social healing," "a commitment to respect the human rights of the perpetrators" even when severe measures are needed, and a commitment to "be effective protectors of children and young people."

Cardinal George said that in the last few years, "we have kept those promises, with difficulties, but we have kept them."

The Cardinal said that, during his discussions at the Vatican, the Congregation for the Clergy expressed support for the Charter but also concern for the presumption of innocence of the accused.

"The Holy See wants us to remain fully involved in both the legal and the healing dimension of this problem," the Cardinal informed, and he said that the revised text "remains basically the same."

The new draft renews the commitment of the USCCB to protect children and young people, but also adapt some norms that many perceived as at odds with local and universal Church rules regulations.

According to the Cardinal, the most significant change is the concept of what sexual abuse is. The broad concept used in the original charter has been replaced "by one more precise, one provided by Canon law," he explained.

The new draft, which US bishops will approve or reject at the end of their spring meeting on Saturday, includes the proposal to change the status of the "Ad Hoc Committee" into a permanent office within the USCBB, which would become the “Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People."

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