Pope Francis Appoints Juan Carlos Cruz to Pontifical Commission for Protecting Minors

Cruz is a survivor of sexual abuse by Fr. Fernando Karadima, who in 2011 was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of sexually abusing minors in the 1980s and 1990s.

Juan Carlos Cruz attends the red carpet of the movie "Francesco"  during the 15th Rome Film Festival on October 21, 2020 in Rome, Italy.
Juan Carlos Cruz attends the red carpet of the movie "Francesco" during the 15th Rome Film Festival on October 21, 2020 in Rome, Italy. (photo: Franco Origlia / Getty)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis appointed Wednesday Juan Carlos Cruz to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Cruz, a Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse, will sit on the Vatican commission for three years.

“I am very grateful to Pope Francis for trusting me with this appointment. I deeply appreciate it,” Cruz wrote on his Twitter account following the announcement on March 24.

“This renews my commitment to continue working to end the scourge of abuse and for so many survivors who still do have justice.”

Cruz joins the existing members of the commission. Fifteen of their appointments were renewed for a year by the pope.

The Vatican Commission for the Protection of Minors was established by Pope Francis in March 2014 as a papal advisory body to improve the Church’s norms and procedures for the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

Cruz is a survivor of sexual abuse by Fr. Fernando Karadima, who in 2011 was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of sexually abusing minors in the 1980s and 1990s.

Pope Francis met with Cruz and other victims of Fr. Karadima in April 2018 in a meeting at the Vatican in which the pope apologized for previously defending Chilean Bishop Juan Barros, who was accused of covering up Karadima’s abuse at the time of the pope’s trip to Chile earlier that year.

Cruz later said in an interview that he had spoken about his homosexuality during his private meeting with the pope, and said that Francis had told him to accept himself and his same-sex attraction because God made him that way.

Last week, before his appointment to the pontifical commission, Cruz spoke out in criticism of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith’s (CDF) ruling that the Catholic Church cannot give liturgical blessings of homosexual unions.

Cruz told the Associated Press on March 15 that people would leave the Catholic Church “if the Church and the CDF do not advance with the world.”

Since the pontifical commission’s establishment, the advisory group has been headed by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston with U.S. Msgr. Robert Oliver as its secretary.

In the Vatican’s March 24 announcement, the membership of Msgr. Luis Manuel Alí Herrera, Fr. Hans Zollner, Sr. Jane Bertelsen, Sr. Arina Gonsalves, Sr. Kayula Lesa, Sr. Hermenegild Makoro, Ernesto Caffo, Gabriel Dy-Liacco, Benyam Dawit Mezmur, John Owen Neville, Nelson Giovannelli Rosendo dos Santo, Hanna Suchocka, Myriam Wijlens, Sinalelea Fe'ao, and Teresa Kettelkamp Morris were renewed.

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