Archbishop Scicluna says February meeting start of ‘global approach’ to fighting sex abuse

sex abuse

In a decision highlighting the great importance he gives to next February’s summit meeting on “the protection of minors in the church,” to which he has called the presidents of all the Catholic bishops conferences, Pope Francis has appointed a high-powered steering committee to oversee the project.

The committee is composed of two cardinals, Blase Cupich (Chicago) and Oswald Gracias (Bombay, India), and two of the church’s experts in the field: Archbishop Charles Scicluna (Malta), and Father Hans Zollner, a German Jesuit and president of the Center for Child Protection and Director and professor of psychology at the Gregorian University in Rome, who will serve as coordinator. The Vatican announced, November 23.

In this exclusive interview with America, Archbishop Scicluna, whom the pope recently appointed as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and who is also the president of its tribunal for appeals, speaks about the significance and goals of the February meeting, and how it will be conducted.

He described it as “a synodal meeting, the first ever of its kind to address the issue of the sexual abuse of minors in the church.“

It is “quite significant” because it brings together the presidents of over 100 bishops conferences from around the world, and the heads of all the Eastern-rite Catholic churches.

Moreover, it is “a very important sign of what we call in technical terms ‘affective collegiality,’ which means the bringing together of bishops from around the world with the Holy Father to discuss important issues and to get them to be on the same page with the Holy Father.”

He said Pope Francis called this summit meeting because “he realizes that this issue,” namely the protection of children and the prevention and addressing of sexual abuse by clergy in the church, “has to be top on the church’s agenda.”

The pope realizes that “this is a global issue, it is not a case of geographical or cultural criteria, rather it is a global issue which the church would want to approach with a united front, with respect for the different cultures but with a united resolve and with people being on the same page on it.”

While acknowledging that it is only four days long (Feb. 21-24) and “is certainly not going to solve everything,”

Archbishop Scicluna emphasized that “it is a very important start of a global process which will take quite some time to perfect.”

As a result of this process he hopes that “a number of initiatives on a continental level will start to happen that will re-create the atmosphere of resolve, determination but also purpose which I hope will mark the Rome meeting,” and will help “to address the issues in a different number of cultures, that have their own restraints, their own important positive aspects but also deficits that have to be discussed on a continental but also local level.” Continue reading

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