Vatican sex abuse panel meets for first time; O’Malley admits “There is so much denial”

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The Roman Catholic Church failed to recognize the worldwide reach of clerical sexual abuse, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley said Saturday (May 3) at a press conference.

“Many don’t see it as a problem of the universal church,” said O’Malley who heads the Vatican’s new commission for the protection of minors.

“In many people’s minds it is an American problem, an Irish problem or a German problem,” he said. “The church has to face it is everywhere in the world. There is so much denial. The church has to respond to make the church safe for children.”

O’Malley, whose Boston archdiocese was at the center of a wave of sex scandals that rocked the church a decade ago, addressed the media after the panel’s eight members held its first meeting in Rome.

Pope Francis announced the creation of the new committee in March. It includes Irish abuse victim and campaigner Marie Collins and two psychiatrists. But the committee is expected to expand to represent every continent around the world.

“We wish to express our heartfelt solidarity with all victims/survivors of sexual abuse as children and vulnerable adults,” O’Malley read from a prepared statement.

“We will propose initiatives to encourage local responsibility around the world and the mutual sharing of ‘best practices’ for the protection of all minors, including programs for training, education, formation and responses to abuse.”

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