The Vatican on Wednesday (Dec. 17) announced the additions to the commission, which is led by O’Malley. The panel, which now has a total of 17 members, is expected to hold its first full meeting in Rome in early February.
Among the new members is Peter Saunders, who founded the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, a London-based support group.
Saunders was abused by family members and the clergy. He was one of six people who met Francis at the Vatican in July in the pontiff’s first formal encounter with victims.
Another new member, Krysten Winter-Green, was born in New Zealand and has degrees in social work and theology. A longtime aide to O’Malley at his posts in the Virgin Islands and Massachusetts, she has worked with the homeless and those living with HIV/AIDS. She has experience working in the field of child abuse, including forensics, assessment and treatment of priest/clergy offenders, the Vatican said.
The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope wanted representation from every continent as well as a multidisciplinary group. Other new members come from Zambia, the Philippines, Australia and Colombia.
Monsignor Robert Oliver, who worked in child protection in Boston and as an abuse prosecutor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is the secretary of the commission.
Ireland’s Marie Collins, previously named to the commission, is also a survivor of child sexual abuse. A founder of the Marie Collins Foundation, she served on the committee that drafted the Catholic Church’s all-Ireland child protection policy, “Our Children Our Church.”
The pope has adopted a hard line on clerical sex abuse and at times asked for forgiveness while lambasting church leaders more than once for protecting abusers.
Last December he created the special commission of lay and ordained Catholics to look at child protection and pastoral care for victims, and he ordered the arrest of a former papal nuncio, Polish archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, on charges of abusing children during his term in the Dominican Republic. Wesolowski is currently on trial at the Vatican.