Pontifical commission – the good and bad

Bill Kilgallon is looking back on his three years as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

A member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors says his work was a mixture of achievement and frustration.

This was Bill Kilgallon, a New Zealander who sat on the Commission’s first term.

He says the achievements include the establishment of the body itself.

It brought together people from different professional backgrounds from all around the world.

Mr Kilgallon chaired a working group dealing with guidelines.

It started with those for the prevention of and response to sexual abuse in the Church.

He says the completion of templates for guidelines to help bishops’ conferences around the world is “a very significant piece of work.”

He lists other achievements as recommendations on changes to Church law and practice.

These set out how to deal with complaints of abuse, time limits for abuse cases and a better definition of a “vulnerable adult.”

Mr Kilgallon says priests in training now undergo more safeguarding. And there is greater screening before recruitment.

Other working groups dealt with how the Church should listen to the voices of survivors.

“So there were some significant achievements, but it was very much at the beginning of work at the Commission,” he says.

At the end of the Commission’s first term, Mr Kilgallon says work had begun on issues such as how to deal with offenders in the Church and how to respond to children of priests.

Commission frustrations

But he can also talk about frustrations.

Far from being helpful, he says the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was at times obstructive. That led to one of the best Commission members leaving and probably led to the Pope not reappointing the prefect of the congregation.

Mr Kilgallon says he had worked in advisory roles to government before, in the UK.

He’s found opposition like the Congregation’s a common institutional reaction.

Mr Kilgallon is critical of the gap between the first and second terms of the Commission.

He says there could have been a seamless hand-over but a delay lead to the impression “that it wasn’t being treated seriously” by the Vatican.

He always thought the Commission would continue, but “it wasn’t helpful to have that gap.”

Kilgallon says he had not expected reappointment because the Commission itself recommended changes to membership and so some must drop off.

Now Mr Kilgallon is anticipating more time with his grandchildren.

But, he says with a smile, “this is my third retirement.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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