Tim Fischer backs Pope’s picks for meeting

Tim Fischer
Tim Fischer, Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).

Pope Francis’ choices of committee members for next year’s meeting on the protection of minors shows his “determination” to address the issue, says former Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Tim Fischer AC.

On 23 November the Vatican announced Pope Francis had appointed US Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and Jesuit Father Hans Zollner to the committee for the February 21-24 meeting.

Fr Zollner SJ is president of the Centre for the Protection of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

He spoke at Campbelltown in the Diocese of Wollongong in September.

Mr Fischer offered his thoughts as an “individual parishioner” from The Royal Melbourne Hospital where he is undergoing treatment for acute leukemia.

Fr Hans Zollner
Fr Hans Zollner SJ, one of the members of the organising committee for the February meeting of Church leaders in Rome to address abuse of children and vulnerable adults in the Church.

“At long last, the Catholic Church is showing signs of practical determination at the top to get sorted on the sex abuse crisis,” he said.

“Let us be clear, this is a crossroads summit which if it fails, will see large chunks of the various congregations of the Church boil over in fury.

“However, the four key appointments are a cut above and give me some confidence.

“Firstly, Cardinal Cupich of Chicago is located centrally in the USA, and is also a centrist not beholden to the extremists of the USA.

“Secondly, Archbishop Scicluna is the ultimate brilliant insider/outsider of Rome who gets things done, most recently tidying up in Chile.

Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago arrives for a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican on 14 October. Photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring.

“Thirdly, Cardinal Gracias of Bombay is a window into the booming seminaries of India, to some degree, also Africa with a knowledge of the need to maintain formation standards.

“Finally best of all is the dedicated Fr Hans Zollner, who labours out of a non air-conditioned base at the Gregorian University, but in the last six years has achieved so much in dealing with the sex abuse saga.

“He will be incredibly good in that role but the truth is, all four will need to punch together and punch above their weight because this is the last chance to show real progress.”

Mr Fischer AC served as Australia’s Ambassador to the Holy See from 2008-2012. Since then he has acted in envoy roles to Bhutan, Eritrea and South Sudan for the Australian Government.

In 2016 he was diagnosed with mild leukemia and in October 2018 this graduated to acute leukemia.