As Pope Francis' council of cardinals for curia reform gather this week in Rome, the newly-created Pontifical Commission for Protection for minors will soon meet to finish creating its statutes. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican's press office, announced in a briefing with journalists Sep. 17 that the commission will hold its next meeting Oct. 4-5. Monsignor Robert W. Oliver was appointed secretary of the commission Sep. 10, and that same day Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston was confirmed president of the commission. As the commission takes shape, Fr. Lombardi underscored that “in the next few weeks other very important aspects will be specified regarding the statutes and further members of the commission.” Msgr. Oliver immediately stressed that his first effort will be that of identifying new members for the commission, in order to include Asia, Africa and South America and thus represent all the world geographical areas. The new secretary will also work on the statutes, harmonizing with the work of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Speaking on the sixth overall gathering of the cardinals' council which took place this time around from Sep. 15-17, Fr. Lombardi said that a draft introduction of the new constitution for general curia reform “was also drawn up and distributed.” The council was chosen by Pope Francis shortly after his election in 2013 to advise him on matters of Church governance and curia reform. As part of this effort, the minors' protection committee was launched within the year. It aims to provide a model for practices which provide an adequate and pastoral response to situations of abuse. Fr. Lombardi said that Cardinal Oscar Andrés Maradiaga, coordinator of the council, “has prepared an overall plan to facilitate the organization of the contributions and reflections already offered during the previous meetings and the integration of new ones.” Each cardinal of the council has been entrusted with a specific area he has to deal with, and each of them has presented several proposals. During the last meeting, the council focused on two principal topics, Fr. Lombardi said. The first “includes the themes of the laity and the family,” a “very broad area, encompassing many issues, including for instance the role of women in society and in the Church, youth, childhood or matters related to lay associations.” The second dealt with “themes linked to justice and peace, charity, migrants and refugees, health and the protection of life and ecology, especially human ecology,” he recounted. Both of this discussion dealt about how “these topics may be included in the Curia reform,” Fr. Lombardi said. It has been widely speculated that the curia reform will streamline its offices by creating two super-congregations: one for Justice and Peace, which would include the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Migrants and Cor Unum; and another Congregation for Laity, including competences and offices of the Pontifical Councils for Laity, Family and Pastoral Health Care. The next meetings of cardinals are scheduled for Dec. 9-11 of this year and Feb. 9-11, 2015.
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