The Vatican announced today that Msgr. Robert W. Oliver will leave his position as promoter of justice to take on a new role as the secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Msgr. Oliver originally hails from the Boston archdiocese, and served there in various capacities until his appointment as promoter of justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Benedict XVI in January 2013. Having been established by the Council of Cardinals in December, the commission for the protection of minors seeks to give a model for practices which provide an adequate and pastoral response to situations of abuse. The priest will join his former archbishop, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who heads the commission, as well as 7 other members including four women and three men. Several are professors and experts in psychology, law, and aid offered to those victimized by sexual abuse. Before his appointment as Promoter of Justice, Msgr. Oliver served the Archdiocese of Boston as assistant to the moderator of the Curia for Canonical Affairs. He is also a visiting professor of canon law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Since 2002, Fr. Oliver has held the role of assistant for canonical affairs for the archdiocese’s vicar general, as judge and promoter of justice in tribunals and as a consultant for the Boston archdiocese’s review board on sex abuse cases. While in Boston, he assisted in training diocesan officials across America to implement the U.S. bishops’ 2003 reforms crafted in response to sexual abuse by clergy. The Boston archdiocese itself was thrown into crisis in 2002 by sex abuse scandals; in the wake of the scandals, then-Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Bernard Law resigned. In addition to his other roles, Msgr. Oliver is also a member of the Brotherhood of Hope, a small Boston-based Catholic association of the faithful involved in campus ministry work. He was born in New York City on April 7, 1960 and raised on Long Island. His late father, Robert W. Oliver, served as a justice on the New York State Supreme Court. He attended The Catholic University of America, the Pontifical Gregorian University, and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He was ordained to the priesthood in Boston’s Holy Cross Cathedral in May 2000. The Sept. 10 statement from the Vatican announcing Msgr. Oliver’s appointment as the commission’s secretary also revealed that Fr. Robert J. Geisinger S.J. is to take over his former position as promoter of justice, often referred to as the “chief prosecutor” for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The person holding this position is responsible for investigating canon-law offenses considered to be the most serious, including crimes against the sanctity of the Eucharist, violations of the seal of confession and allegations of the abuse of minors by clergy. Fr. Geisinger has formerly served as General Procurator for the Society of Jesus, and is a member of the Chicago Province.
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