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VATICAN CITY — Bishops who do not comply with the child protection norms adopted by their bishops’ conferences and approved by the Vatican must face real consequences, said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
The commission, he said, “is very, very concerned about this whole area of (bishops’) accountability” and has a working group drawing up recommendations for Pope Francis.
The proposed new norms, the cardinal told reporters at the Vatican Feb. 7, “would allow the church to respond in an expeditious way when a bishop has not fulfilled his obligations.”
“We think we have come up with some very practical recommendations that would help to remedy the situation that is such a source of anxiety to everybody” on the pontifical commission, he said. The recommendations will be presented to Pope Francis.
The cardinal and members of the commission, which includes survivors of clerical sex abuse, spoke to reporters at the end of their Feb. 6-7 meeting at the Vatican.
Peter Saunders, a survivor and commission member, said, “Bishop accountability is most definitely something that is a concern and central to some of the work that is going to be carried out by the commission.”
Saunders, who is from London, said he knows the Vatican and the church at large “operate in a slightly different time dimension” where the definition of “quick” may be months or years. “I get that,” Saunders said, “but when it comes to time, children only get one stab at childhood.”
“It is not disputed that there have been far too many cover-ups, there have been far too many clergy protected, moved from place to place — this has got to be consigned to history very quickly,” he said.