ROME – Father Andrew Small from Liverpool was appointed on Tuesday as the new secretary of the pope’s commission for the protection of minors, succeeding American Monsignor Robert Oliver, who was removed from the position earlier this year.

“I am deeply honored to be called to serve the Holy Father and God’s people as secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors,” said Small in a statement released by the commission when the appointment was announced.

“Safeguarding the youth of our Church and of our communities remains one of the most urgent priorities of the Church today,” he said. “I look forward to doing my part to help rebuild trust in a Church whose mission is to protect, support and love any and all, but especially those wounded by the Church’s ministers. The Lord will accompany us in the healing that lies ahead as we continue on this most important path of safeguarding.”

Small is an expert on the global south, having been a priest in Brazil for several years and the director of the Church in Latin America subcommittee for the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops. More recently, he served a five-year term as the director of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

He’s been described to Crux not only as a man conscious of the Catholic Church’s need to fight the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults, but also as a good administrator with lifelong experience in Church organizations.

Among other things, the new secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors will be tasked with leading the transition period that will come after the long-awaited publication of the new Vatican constitution that will determine where within the Roman Curia the commission will be structured.

He will serve under Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who is expected to continue as head of the commission for another three years.

Born in 1968, Small is a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Originally from Liverpool, England, he has served in parish ministry in Brazil and the United States. He was the U.S. bishops’ policy advisor for international economic development from 2004 to 2009, after which he coordinated Church recovery efforts following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

In 2014, as director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, he founded Misio Invest, a vehicle that strengthens the network of religious and priests in sub-Saharan Africa, where Church-run schools and health facilities are attached to an abundance of arable land, much of it underutilized due to lack of funds and commercial experience.

He taught international trade law as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center from 2006-2009, and he holds law degrees from Sheffield University in England and Georgetown University Law Center, and a doctorate in systematic theology from the Catholic University of America.

Small speaks Italian, Portuguese, French and Spanish, in addition to English.

Oliver served as secretary of the Commission for the past four years. Previously, he had been the Promoter of Justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He will head back to Boston at the end of the month.

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