The Holy See's Press Office released a statement on Friday in which it announced that Pope Francis has named several people to an organizing Committee to prepare for a meeting to take place in the Vatican from the 21-24 February, 2019. This meeting will take up the subject of the protection of minors in the Church and will be attended by the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences. Full statement of the text follows.
"The Holy Father has designated as members of the organizing committee for the meeting on the protection of minors in the Church, to be held in the Vatican from 21 to 24 February 2019: Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago (USA); Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay (India) and President of the Bishops’ Conference of India; the Most Reverend Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta and Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and the Reverend Hans Zollner, S.J., President of the Centre for the Protection of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, whom he has named contact person for the committee.
Participants in the February meeting
"Taking part in the meeting, at which His Holiness will be present, will be the Heads of the Oriental Catholic Churches; the Superiors of the Secretariat of State; the Prefects of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the Oriental Churches, for Bishops, for the Evangelization of Peoples, for the Clergy, for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, and of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life; the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences; and representatives of the Union of Superiors General and of the International Union of Superiors General.
Others involved in preparatory work
"Involved in the preparatory work for the meeting will be, among others, Dr Gabriella Gambino, Undersecretary for the Section for Life, and Dr Linda Ghisoni, Undersecretary for the Section for the Lay Faithful, of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life; the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and some victims of abuse by members of the clergy."
Importance of February meeting
After the announcment was made public regarding this organizing Committee established by Pope Francis, Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See's Press Office, explained the importance of the upcoming February meeting. "The February meeting is unprecendented", he said. It "shows [that] Pope Francis has made the protection of minors a fundamental priority for the Church."
The meeting is not only "about keeping children safe from harm worldwide.", Mr Burke continued. "Pope Francis wants Church leaders to have a full understanding of the devastating impact that clerical sexual abuse has on victims."
Although primarily for bishops, who bear responsibility for the "grave problem", Mr Burke said that "lay men and women who are experts in the field of abuse" will also be on hand to give their input. It is they who "can help address especially what needs to done to ensure transparency and accountability", he concluded.
In an exclusive interview with America Magazine, Archbishop Scicluna, whom Pope Francis recently appointed as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith speaks about the significance and goals of the February meeting, and how it will be conducted.
He said it is “a synodal meeting, the first ever of its kind to address the issue of the sexual abuse of minors in the Church” and that .“ 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”.