sabato 17 febbraio 2018

The Wall Street Journal
(Francis X. Rocca) Pope Francis renewed his advisory panel on child protection, after a two-month lapse, amid growing criticism of his record on clerical sex abuse. The announcement on Saturday came the same day that a Vatican investigator was scheduled to begin interviewing witnesses in the case of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse. The case has raised questions among advocates for sex-abuse victims and others about Pope Francis’ sensitivity and credibility on the issue.The head of the panel will remain Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, a role he has held since it was established in 2014. Seven of the original members will be joined by nine new appointments.
The new panel includes victims of clerical sex abuse, according to the Vatican, but those people have chosen not to identify themselves publicly. The previous panel included two self-identified sex abuse victims, both of whom resigned before the end of their term, expressing frustration over what they said was the Vatican’s lack of action against clerical sex abuse.
The panel will continue working to establish a separate advisory body composed of clerical sex abuse victims from around the world, the Vatican said.
Delays to new appointments were due to background checks of the new members, the pope told reporters last month.
Pope Francis has been under heavy criticism since January, when, during a visit to Chile, he dismissed accusations that Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno had witnessed and failed to report assaults by another priest. “There is not one shred of proof against (the bishop). It’s all calumny,” he said.
The pope’s words drew an extraordinary rebuke from Cardinal O’Malley, who said they had caused “great pain” to sex abuse victims by suggesting they wouldn’t be believed without proof.
The pope then told reporters with him on his flight back to Rome that he was willing to listen to Bishop Barros’ accusers, but that he hadn’t heard from any of them.
“No one has come forward, they haven’t provided any evidence for a judgment,” the pope said.
But Marie Collins, one of the sex abuse victims who resigned from the Vatican panel, said that in 2015 she had given a detailed letter from one of the accusers to Cardinal O’Malley. She said he later assured her he had given the letter to the pope.
“We’ve heard nothing but silence from the Vatican since that letter was made public,” Ms. Collins said.
A spokesman for Cardinal O’Malley referred questions on the matter to the Vatican spokesman, who declined to comment.
The day after his return from Chile, the pope named Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Vatican’s former prosecutor for sex abuse cases, to interview witnesses and examine possible new evidence in the Barros case.
Juan Carlos Cruz, the author of the letter, said he was scheduled to give testimony to Archbishop Scicluna on Saturday in New York.
The pope declined to meet with Mr. Cruz or other accusers of Bishop Barros when he was in Chile, but did meet with other sex abuse victims. On Thursday, the Vatican said Pope Francis meets privately with sex abuse victims “several times a month … both individually and in groups.”