VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has named nine new
members to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, including
abuse survivors or the parents of survivors, the Vatican said.
However, respecting "the right of each person to
disclose their experiences of abuse publicly or not to do so," the
commission said Feb. 17, "the members appointed today have chosen not do
so publicly, but solely within the commission."
Pope Francis re-appointed Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of
Boston to be president of the commission, which the pope originally established
in 2014. The terms of the original members had expired in December.
The first group of members had included two survivors who
were very public about their experience of abuse as children. Peter Saunders, a
British survivor and advocate, was asked by the commission to take a leave of
absence in 2016; Marie Collins, an Irish survivor and advocate, announced in March
2017 that she had resigned. Both were outspoken about what they saw as
resistance to implementing change and ensuring accountability for bishops
guilty of covering up abuse.
The new members, whose appointments were announced by the
Vatican Feb. 17 include: Benyam Dawit Mezmur, an Ethiopian who was chair of the
U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2015-17; Indian Sister Arina
Gonsalves, a certified counselor and consultant on abuse cases; Neville Owen, a
judge and former chair of the Australian Catholic Church's Truth, Justice and
Healing Council; Sinalelea Fe'ao, chief education officer for the Diocese of
Tonga and Niue; and Myriam Wijlens, a canon law professor from the Netherlands.
Also appointed were: Ernesto Caffo, an Italian professor of child
and adolescent psychiatry and member of the board of directors of the
International Center for Missing and Exploited Children; Sister Jane Bertelsen,
a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood, who has
worked for 20 years in developing child-protection policies in Australia and
England; Teresa Kettelkamp, former executive director of the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection; and Nelson Giovanelli
Dos Santos, the Brazilian co-founder of the Fazenda da Esperanca and an expert
in the rehabilitation of youth.
The seven members who were re-appointed are: Jesuit Father
Hans Zollner, director of the Center for Child Protection at Rome's Pontifical
Gregorian University; Gabriel Dy-Liacco, a psychotherapist from the Philippines;
Auxiliary Bishop Luis Manuel Ali Herrera of Bogota, Colombia; Hannah Suchocka,
professor of law and former prime minister of Poland; Sister of Charity Kayula
Lesa of Zambia, who has worked with refugees and in the prevention of human
trafficking; Precious Blood Sister Hermenegild Makoro, secretary-general of the
Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference; and Msgr. Robert Oliver,
commission secretary and former abuse investigator for the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith.
Cardinal O'Malley, in a statement released by the
commission, said the new members "will add to the commission's global
perspective in the protection of minors and vulnerable adults."
In April, the renewed commission will meet "with
several people who have experienced abuse" before discussing ways to
promote an ongoing dialogue with survivors, said the commission's statement.
"Discussions have been underway for some months with a
view to creating an 'International Survivor Advisory Panel,' a new structure shaped
by the voices of victims-survivors," the statement said. Baroness Sheila
Hollins, a mental health specialist and commission member who was not
reappointed, will make a presentation about the advisory panel at the April
"The goals for this panel include studying abuse
prevention from the survivor's perspective and being pro-active in awareness
raising of the need for healing and care for everyone hurt by abuse," the