Vatican's anti-abuse commission launches new website

by Hannah Brockhaus

Vatican City, Dec 6, 2016 / 06:16 am (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors launched a new website Tuesday, which is designed to help inform the public about their work, and includes resources for Church leaders on safeguarding children and caring for survivors.

Announced by the Vatican Dec. 6, and coinciding with the feast of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, the website is considered to be in the “beta” stage and is still undergoing development.

However, the website already includes information on the history, mission and members of the Commission, practical resources and Church documents on the topic of abuse, as well as past and upcoming programs of the commission, and news about their current work.

The commission serves as an advisory body to the Pope, providing recommendations on how the Church can best protect minors and vulnerable adults. It consists of 17 men and women from around the world who work in the field of abuse prevention and recovery, including a few survivors, and is headed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston.

The group was first proposed to the Pope by his Council of Cardinals in December 2013. After he approved the proposal, Francis appointed Cardinal O’Malley to form the commission and carry forward their work.

The new website aims to promote a spirit of transparency, including information on the educational programs and conferences they have given at the Vatican and in other parts of the world, such as a recent presentation given to bishops Sept. 15 during a formation course for new bishops at the Vatican.

Under the website’s resources section can be found guidelines and practical advice on responding to complaints of abuse, advice for meeting with survivors, using prayer in the healing process, and how to contact the commission with recommendations or information.

There are also links to important commission documents and to addresses, speeches and letters of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI on the topic of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults by the Church.

And finally, a press and media section includes press releases and links to news on the commission’s work.

According to the website, engaging with the media is considered an important aspect of the commission’s promotion of “public awareness about the need to ensure the protection of minors throughout the Church.”

The website is currently only available in English, but will eventually be expanded to include Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French language versions.