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BRAINTREE -- Citing the need to take care of "important matters pertaining to the pastoral care" at St. John's Seminary, a statement from the Archdiocese of Boston announced on Aug. 15 that Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley will not be attending the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Ireland.
Cardinal O'Malley, who is the chairman of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was scheduled to lead a panel on "Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults" at the World Meeting of Families, which will take place Aug. 21-26 in Dublin, Ireland.
In the statement, the archdiocese said Cardinal O'Malley was cancelling his appearance because, "important matters pertaining to the pastoral care of St. John's Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston and the seminarians enrolled in the formation program there require the Cardinal's personal attention and presence."
The Aug. 15 statement said Cardinal O'Malley "has great confidence" that the panelists will go forward without him and that, "while the Cardinal will not be able to join them at that time he will closely follow the proceedings from the Archdiocese of Boston."
On Aug. 10, Cardinal O'Malley announced that he had initiated an investigation into two former seminarians' claims of alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct at St. John's Seminary. In addition, he had placed the rector of St. John's, Msgr. James Maroney, on sabbatical leave for the fall semester and appointed Father Stephen Salocks as interim rector, "in order that there can be a fully independent inquiry regarding these matters."
Cardinal O'Malley said in his Aug. 10 statement, "The ministry of the Catholic priesthood requires a foundation of trust with the people of the Church and the wider community in which our priests serve. I am determined that all our seminaries meet that standard of trust and provide the formation necessary for priests to live a demanding vocation of service in our contemporary society."
The World Meeting of Families takes place every three years in a different city around the world. The Pontifical Council for the Family, now part of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, established the event in 1994 at the request of Pope St. John Paul II, who envisioned an international event celebrating the importance of families in society.
The 2018 World Meeting of Families will mark Pope Francis' first pastoral visit to Ireland.