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Pope Francis: The Church must be a protected place for minors

Pope Francis: The Church must be a protected place for minors

The church must be a place that can offer the greatest possible protection to minors and vulnerable adults, Pope Francis said while receiving members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was formed a decade ago, at the Vatican on Thursday.

Pope Francis said the Church must continue to commit with all its might to preventing abuses, must firmly condemn them, and must pay compassionate attention to the victims.

In the face of the scandal of abuse and the suffering of the victims, “we can feel discouraged, because rebuilding broken lives and healing pain is a huge and complex challenge.” However, this should not diminish their commitment; Moreover, I encourage you to move forward so that the Church may always and everywhere be a place where everyone feels at home and where every person is holy.”

He stressed: In church service, closeness to victims does not represent “an abstract concept, but a very concrete reality,” which means listening, intervention, prevention and assistance.

He believed that everyone, especially church authorities, should know firsthand the consequences of abuse. The head of the church emphasized: “Let us be touched by the suffering of the victims, listen directly to their voices, and be close to them, giving comfort and assistance in making practical decisions, and creating a different future for everyone.”

He added that it is not possible for victims of violations not to receive reception and listening, because that could greatly increase their suffering. He noted that providing assistance requires personal commitment and expertise.

The Pope thanked the committee for its work over the past ten years. He said that most of the work is done secretly and behind the scenes, with respect for those in charge. Pope Francis added that the results of the committee's activities have become clear thanks to cooperation with local churches. The Pope said that when the commission was formed, he called for “reliable tools” to receive and care for victims and survivors, and at the same time to enable local communities to provide prevention and protection independently, especially in those parts of the country. A world where they lacked resources and experience.

On March 22, 2014, Pope Francis established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The purpose of the twenty-person advisory council, made up of ecclesiastical and lay experts, is to propose initiatives to the pope to protect minors and vulnerable adults so that sexual abuse does not occur in the church. The commission holds its plenary session in March each year, when it also submits an annual report to the Pope.

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