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Pope Francis' Commitment To Safeguarding Minors

It's been ten years since the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors started its work. Established by Pope Francis on March 22nd, 2014, one year after his election, its mission remains as crucial as ever. 

The statutes of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors state that "The aim of the Commission is to promote the protection of the dignity of minors and vulnerable adults, using the forms and methods, consonant with the nature of the Church, which they consider most appropriate, as well as through their cooperation with individuals and groups pursuing these same objectives." 

Ten years later, Pope Francis named two new officials. Bishop Luis Manuel Ali Herrera, the Auxiliary Bishop of Bogota, now serves as the Secretary for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Additionally, Teresa Morris Kettelkamp has been appointed Adjunct Secretary of the Commission. Both have previously served as members of the Commission. 

Pope Francis has emphasized a strengthened commitment to the Catholic Church's mission to protect minors. He addressed this to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors during their plenary assembly. The Holy Father encouraged the Commission to show their support for local churches worldwide, particularly in offering care and putting preventive measures in place.  

"Our commitment must not wane," he said, "indeed, I encourage you to move forward so that the Church will always and everywhere be a place where everyone can feel at home and each person is treated as sacred." 

 The Pontifical Commission is leading this mission. With its annual report and the innovative Memorare Initiative, the Commission is actively working to create a safer Church. 

Emer McCarthy, a Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors member, expressed, "The moment has arrived now that we have created this momentum for change in the Church. Now I think it's time that we do as I said beforehand, it's 10 years. It is not for us, the celebration, it's the time to start assessing and taking stock. We have presented our first Pilot Annual Report on safeguarding policies and procedures in the Church to the Holy Father. We hope that this will become and speak for itself, measuring our progress over the years to come. 

Launched in 2023, the Memorare Initiative aims to help Churches, especially in the global South, develop strong abuse prevention policies. It is supported by a significant grant of 230,000 Euros, which is being used to enhance safeguarding initiatives in several countries. This effort is designed to create a safer environment for minors and vulnerable adults. 

 These initiatives send a clear message from Pope Francis: there is still work to be done.  

Adapted by Jacob Stein 

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