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The idea of a Commission of experts to act as an advisory body to the Holy Father for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults was first proposed Council of Cardinals in December 2013. These Cardinals, representing Churches around the world, identified this task as one of the most urgent priorities for the Church today.




The Holy Father approved the proposal and appointed Cardinal Seán O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap. with the task of forming the Commission. His Eminence spoke with the press on 5 December 2013, outlining ideas for the Commission and making special note of the fact that Pope Francis was “continuing decisively along the lines undertaken by his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI.”  The Commission “will study present programs in place for the protection of children; formulate suggestions for new initiatives on the part of the Curia, in collaboration with bishops, episcopal conferences, religious superiors and conferences of religious superiors”.




Pope Francis formally appointed the first eight Members of the “Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors” on 22 March 2014.  They were chosen from a variety of backgrounds, men and women, lay, religious, and clergy, and asked to identify further members from dioceses and religious institutes around the world:


Dr. Catherine Bonnet (France)
Mrs. Marie Collins (Ireland)
Prof. Sheila Baroness Hollins (United Kingdom)
Card. Seán O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap. (United States)
Prof. Claudio Papale (Italy)
Prof. Hanna Suchocka (Poland)
Rev. Humberto Miguel Yañez, S.J. (Argentina)
Rev. Hans Zollner, S.J. (Germany)


Following several months of intense work, Pope Francis received their recommendations and appointed nine further Commission Members:


Bishop Luis Manuel Alí Herrera (Colombia);
Dr. Gabriel Dy-Liacco (Philippines);
Mr. Bill Kilgallon (New Zealand);
Sr. Kayula Lesa, R.S.C. (Zambia);
Sr. Hermenegild Makoro, C.P.S. (South Africa);
Ms. Kathleen McCormack (Australia);

Msgr. Robert W. Oliver (United States)

Mr. Peter Saunders (England);
Dr. Krysten Winter-Green (United States).


On 21 April 2015, the Holy Father formally approved the Statutes of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] and confirmed Cardinal O’Malley as President and Mons. Oliver as Secretary.


In a Chirograph issued on 22 March 2014, Pope Francis wrote that the Commission’s task is to advise the Roman Pontiff on effective policies for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults and educational programs for all who are involved in this work.


In response, the Members are focusing their current efforts on six particular areas: the priority of healing and care for victim/survivors and their families; comprehensive guidelines in local Churches to ensure the safety of minors and vulnerable adults; education of Church leadership and ecclesial communities; initial and ongoing formation for clergy and religious in the protection of minors; theology and spirituality; and canonical and civil norms governing the protecting of minors.