Former Polish prime minister Hanna Suchocka has been nominated by Pope Francis as a member of an eight-strong group to fight sexual abuse of minors within the Roman Catholic Church.
There are four women and four men in the group, including Marie Collins, who was abused by priests in her native Ireland in the 1960s and has campaigned for the protection of children and for justice for victims of clerical pedophilia.
Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Baroness Sheila Hollins, a British psychiatrist, French child psychiatrist Catherine Bonnet, Italian canon law professor Claudio Papale and two Jesuit priests, Argentine moral theologian Humberto Miguel Yanez and German psychologist Hans Zollner also make up the group.
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi has said that the group would examine options such as criminal action against offenders, education on child exploitation, most effective practices to screen priests and a clear definition of civil and clerical duties within the Church.
“Pope Francis has made clear that the Church must hold the protection of minors amongst its highest priorities,” he said in a statement released at the weekend.
Hanna Suchocka served as Prime Minister in 1992 and 1993, as justice minister from 1997 to 2000 and as Polish ambassador to the Holy See from 2001 to 2013.
The Polish Church was rocked last year when Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski was recalled last year to Rome amid claims he sexually abused children in the Dominican Republic and a 36-year-old priest, Wojciech G, is also accused of molesting boys while serving as a parish priest on the Caribbean island.
In March, a District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw said it was investigating allegations against a priest who allegedly abused children regularly in the Polish capital between 1 January 2000 and 7 January 2003. (mk/pg)