Pope Francis Names Second Abuse Survivor to Child Abuse Protection Panel

Amy Schaeffer - Author

Dec. 17 2014, Updated 12:55 p.m. ET

Pope Francis expanded his papal commission on child protection to include a second survivor of abuse and more experts from around the world.

The Commission for the Protection of Minors, which Pope Francis established one year ago, adds four more women and four men from five continents to the now-17-member body, which is widely diverse in experience, background, education, and philosophy.

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One of the new members is Peter Saunders, the chief executive officer of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), which he founded nearly two decades ago in the United Kingdom to help other survivors find support. He was one of six abuse survivors who spoke with Pope Francis in a private meeting at the Vatican on July 7 and shared his own personal experiences of child sexual abuse.

Also joining the commission are the following.

  • Krysten Winter-Green, an expert in theology, human development, social work and pastoral psychology, who has served in a number of dioceses in the United States. Born in New Zealand, Winter-Green served as Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s chancellor when he was bishop of St. Thomas in the American Virgin Islands, and she also worked for him in Fall River and Boston. According to biographical information provided by the Vatican, her work in the field of child abuse includes “forensics, assessment and treatment of priest and clergy offenders.”
  • Bill Kilgallon, national director of the Office for Professional Standards of the Catholic Church in New Zealand, which oversees the church’s response to accusations of abuse against clergy or religious. Before that, Kilgallon was a member of a review team into the protection of children and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and in 2008, he was appointed as the first chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission of England and Wales, which was responsible for setting policies and procedures for the Catholic Church and monitoring compliance by dioceses and religious congregations.
  • Precious Blood Sister Hermenegild Makoro, the secretary-general of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. She has served as provincial superior of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood and had been associate secretary-general secretary of the Pretoria-based bishops’ conference.
  • Kathleen McCormack, founder and now retired-director of CatholicCare, which works with Australia’s dioceses, provides essential social services and counseling to those in need. Starting in the 1990s, McCormack also became a vocal advocate for victims of sexual abuse. She helped report priests and perpetrators to the police and urged the church and Catholic organizations implement child protection programs.
  • Sister Kayula Lesa, a member of the Religious Sisters of Charity, works at the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Zambia. She has been active in the fight against human trafficking and supporting human rights. She has written on child protection and refugee rights and has served as a member of the African Forum for Church Social Teaching.
  • Gabriel Dy-Liacco is licensed counselor and an assistant professor at Regent University’s School of Psychology and Counseling in Virginia. Born in the Philippines, Dy-Liacco is “an adult and adolescent psychotherapist and pastoral counselor for various mental health concerns” including victims and perpetrators of abuse, according to the Vatican.
  • Father Luis Manuel Ali Herrera is the head of the department of psychology and a professor of pastoral psychology at the major seminary of the Archdiocese of Bogota, Colombia.
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Pope Francis, who has called for zero tolerance and complete accountability for the “despicable” crime of sexual abuse, has said he wants the commission to help the church develop better policies and procedures for protecting minors. The commission is also meant to lay out a pastoral approach to helping victims and prevent future abuse as well as focus on priestly formation, accountability and reaching out to survivors.

The commission is headed by Cardinal O’Malley; the commission secretary is U.S. Father Robert W. Oliver, a Boston priest and canon lawyer who worked on the abuse crisis in the church there.

The new papal commission members join Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of clerical abuse, and six — mostly European — experts in mental health, civil and church law, and moral theology.

The next plenary session of the commission will take place in the Vatican on Feb. 6-8, 2015. The new members and Pope Francis are expected to be present. Pope Francis has been heralded by many as a saint for his strong stance on child abuse and his commitment to charity work.


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