Pope names two Americans to key posts on sex abuse reform

Pope names two Americans to key posts on sex abuse reform September 10, 2014

From John Allen in Crux: 

​Two priests from the United States, one with ties to Chicago and the other a veteran of the Boston archdiocese, have been named to key Vatican roles by Pope Francis in his clean-up effort with regard to the Church’s child sexual abuse scandals.

​Fr. Robert Oliver, who served as a key advisor to Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston on issues related to the abuse crisis until 2012, has been named to the new position of Secretary to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

​That body was created by Pope Francis in December 2013 to lead the charge for reform on the fight against sexual abuse, and includes O’Malley as a member.

​The appointment effectively means that Oliver will run the council’s day-to-day operations, and will serve as chief of staff for O’Malley and the other members of the commission, who also include an abuse survivor from Ireland named Marie Collins.

​Oliver had previously served as the Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a role akin to a District Attorney’s position in the United States with regard to offenses under church law which fall under the congregation’s jurisdiction.

​In recent years, the most important of those offenses has been clerical sexual abuse, making the Promoter of Justice the lead official for overseeing prosecutions of accused clergy under church law.

To fill the position vacated by Oliver, Francis has named Fr. Robert Geisinger, a Jesuit from Chicago who since 2001 has served as the Procurator General of the Jesuit order, making him the chief in-house advisor on matters of church law to the Jesuit superior in Rome.

​Geisinger is a well-regarded canon lawyer in Rome, who has frequently been called upon informally by other religious orders and bishops from various parts of the world to offer counsel on various matters of church law, including the response to abuse allegations.

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