Welfare of Minors and Vulnerable Persons

Concern for the welfare of all those in need

As a special agency of the Holy See, CNEWA-Pontifical Mission has been entrusted the privilege of assisting the Eastern Catholic churches and the peoples they serve, especially the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable. Lifting up, honoring and protecting the dignity of every child of God — especially the weak — is how we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is how the CNEWA-Pontifical Mission family lives out the faith. “All of us,” Pope Francis states in his motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi, “are called to give concrete witness of faith in Christ in our lives and, in particular, in our relationships with others.”

There is no greater priority of the agency, therefore, than its commitment to uphold the dignity of all human life, from conception to natural death. And so CNEWA-Pontifical Mission is concerned for all aspects of the care and protection of all those seeking help from the agency’s partners on the ground, including, but not limited to respect for human dignity and rights; safety; security; physical, emotional and mental health; education; and moral and spiritual integral development.

“The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord,” the pope continues, “cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful. In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the church, so that personal sanctity and moral commitment can contribute to promoting the full credibility of the Gospel message and the effectiveness of the church’s mission.”

Therefore, every CNEWA-Pontifical Mission-supported institution and program offering care for minors and vulnerable persons must be visited by an agency program officer to ensure the quality of care, including but not limited to any form of emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

In addition, every agency-supported institution and program must agree to uphold and endorse an agreement outlining CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s concern for the welfare of all those in need (See “An Agreement Regarding the Welfare of Minors and Vulnerable Persons” attached to Administrative Policy A69) and adopt and implement a minor and vulnerable person protection policy approved by its respective episcopal conference or governing authority. This policy must have in place complaint and investigation procedures for allegations of emotional, physical or sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons, including but not limited to the abuse of authority to coerce or submit to sexual acts.

Support for the care of minors and vulnerable persons

A major portion of CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s resources are regularly deployed to provide assistance to minors enrolled in childcare institutions and programs, including, but not limited to orphanages, institutions for children with special needs, residential facilities, boarding schools, kindergartens and elementary, secondary and vocational schools. A minor is defined as any person under the age of 18 or who is considered by local law the equivalent of a minor.

In addition, the agency allocates a significant share of its annual programmatic budget to fund institutions and programs that support, but are not limited to, the care of vulnerable people. A vulnerable person is defined as any person in a state of need and/or infirmity, emotionally, mentally or physically, including but not limited to, displaced families, special needs adults, the elderly, prisoners, substance abusers, expectant mothers and new mothers and their infants.

A vulnerable person also includes those deprived of his or her personal liberty by a superior who abuses his or her authority to coerce or submit that individual to sexual acts.

Deficiencies in the care of or the abuses of minors and vulnerable persons

If an agency program officer observes or learns of any credible allegations of significant deficiencies in the quality of care offered by an institution or program — including, but not limited to poor administration; inadequate safeguards for safety and security; signs of physical, emotional and mental exploitation or neglect; careless moral and spiritual integral development; and any form of emotional, physical and sexual abuse — that CNEWA-Pontifical Mission staff member must report immediately these allegations or deficiencies to his or her regional director.

Should allegations include the physical, emotional and sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable persons, CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s regional director will report these to the appropriate local religious authorities, the agency’s chief administrative officer in New York and to local criminal or civil enforcement agencies if appropriate.

It is incumbent upon every religious superior in each country in which CNEWA-Pontifical Mission serves to follow the procedures outlined by his/her respective episcopal conference or church governing authority regarding allegations of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons. These procedures include taking credible accusations of abuse seriously and, if appropriate, reporting them to civil and/or criminal authorities as required by the policy or as otherwise required by local law.


Should the agency’s regional director determine that superiors of the institution or program (including, but not limited to the institution’s or program’s religious superiors, employees or consultants) fail to follow their own established policies and procedures — or that of their respective episcopal conferences or religious and/or secular governing authorities — for the protection of minors and vulnerable persons from any form of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, CNEWA-Pontifical Mission will withdraw its financial support and suspend its relationship with the institution or program and so notify the appropriate authorities, civil and/or religious or as otherwise required by law.

If other alleged deficiencies in the care of minors or vulnerable persons are verified and not remedied, the agency reserves the right to terminate funding.

CNEWA-Pontifical Mission will not support any institution or program that violates its standards to uplift, honor and protect the inherent dignity of every child of God, especially the weak and vulnerable.

(Last updated 26 June 2019)

See also CNEWA’s statement on the protection of minors.

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