New sex abuse memorandum details yet to reach NZ

New sex abuse memorandum

New Zealand’s National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) looks forward to hearing from either the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (pictured) or the Dicastery for Evangelisation regarding a new sex abuse memorandum.

On 21 April the heads of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and the Dicastery for Evangelisation signed a memorandum of understanding to improve assistance to victims of abuse, bishops and local churches both in mission countries and emerging communities.

New Zealand’s primary relationship with the Vatican is through the Dicastery for Evangelisation.

Virginia Noonan, National Director of NOPS, told CathNews “The National Office for Professional Standards looks forward to receiving more details about the memorandum of understanding.”

It is proposed that the enhanced collaboration will come with a number of benefits: sharing resources, information and formation and “promoting concrete structural change to build a culture of safeguarding.”

For now, however, it remains uncertain what additional benefits the new relationship will bring survivors, NOPS and the NZ Church.

Nor is it clear what New Zealand may be able to share.

Commission president US Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston who spent many years as “a missionary bishop” when he ministered in the US Virgin Islands, says he understands what it is like to run a diocese with very limited resources.

He says the commission hopes to work with the dioceses that are under the dicastery’s purview.

The commission’s aim is to “help them to be able to develop programmes, to be able to receive victims” in ways that also offer needed pastoral outreach and care, not just the correct “juridical practices,” he says.

It also aims to help the dioceses in safeguarding and prevention work so “our churches, schools and communities will be safe places for children and young people.”

The controversial sex abuse commission has suffered several resignations, with former members being unhappy with the Commission’s processes.

The latest resignation is respected expert Fr Hans Zollner.

Zollner resigned citing disagreements over how the body is being operated.

“I have noticed issues that need to be urgently addressed and that have made it impossible for me to continue further,” he said in a candid message published on social media.

In his critique of the Commission, Zollner said he had “grown increasingly concerned” with the Vatican’s safeguarding commission and its lack of “responsibility, compliance, accountability and transparency.”

“I am convinced that these are principles that any Church institution, let alone the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, is bound to uphold,” he said.

Cardinal Luis Tagle, Prefect for the Dicastery for Evangelisation, describes the new collaboration as “a welcome development.”

Among its other functions, the Dicastery for Evangelisation is responsible for appointing New Zealand bishops.

New Zealand’s last member on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was former NOPS head, Mr Bill Killgallon.

Killgallon’s involvement ended in 2016.


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