Protection of minors - main history image

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  by the 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.

The Cardinal spoke with the press on December 5, 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 March 22, 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)


On April 21, 2015 the Holy Father formally approved the Statutes of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (P.C.P.M.) and confirmed Cardinal O’Malley as President and Monsignor Oliver as Secretary.


In a Chirograph issued on March 22, 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 focused 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.


In its first three years the Commission participated in over 150 educational events on all six continents and in the Holy See to raise awareness of the impact of the sexual abuse of minors and to help local churches establish policies to prevent it. Receiving the founding members in audience in September 2017, Pope Francis said:


“The Church is called to be a place of piety and compassion, especially for those who have suffered. For all of us, the Catholic Church remains a field hospital that accompanies us on our spiritual journey. It is the place where we can sit with others, listen to them and share with them our struggles and our faith in the good news of Jesus Christ. I am fully confident that the Commission will continue to be a place where we can listen with interest to the voices of the victims and the survivors, as we have much to learn from them and their personal stories of courage and perseverance”.

Pope FrancisSeptember 21, 2017


On February 17, 2018 the Holy Father confirmed the Commission in its mandate at the end of a three year ad experimentum period.  He also appointed a new membership, nominating sixteen professionals from the field of safeguarding to advise him and build on the work and vision of the founding members.




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  by the...

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“I rely on the members of this Commission for the effective protection of minors and vulnerable adults, regardless of religion they profess, because they are the little...

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“The Commission’s specific task is to propose to me the most opportune initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults, in order that we may do everything...

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