Abuse victim quits Vatican commission (2)

Survivor says she quit pope’s anti-abuse panel over frustrations with Curia

Her bravery was instrumental in encouraging other survivors to come forward and in forcing the Irish State to put in place four Commissions of Investigation which uncovered the dark, hidden world of clerical sexual abuse.

Clerical abuse survivor and campaigner Marie Collins said she resigned from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors because a group of people in the Vatican who had been obstructing its work, including not following recommendations from the Pope.

In a separate exclusive statement for NCR explaining her choice, Collins says she chose to leave the commission after losing hope that Vatican officials would cooperate with its work following a failure to implement a series of recommendations.

She said Ms Collins is recognised internationally as a woman of the highest integrity who harboured real hopes that her participation in the Vatican Commission would lead to genuine change at the very top of the Catholic Church. "I learned in a letter from this particular dicastery last month that they are refusing to do so", she said.

"Sometimes I feel the Pope does make mistakes, he's badly advised", said Collins, "But you're dependent in that position on those around you for advice".

Observers say the resignation of Collins puts the credibility of the commission in serious question. He says he understands that she felt "frustrations" that she was not listened to and that "as she says, there are some quarters in the Vatican ...that do not cooperate fully and with the speed necessary with the Commission".

Collins's departure and her depiction of high-level obstruction of change is an embarrassing blow to the pontiff's attempts to demonstrate that the Church is effectively combating a scourge that has profoundly damaged its image over recent decades.

In her resignation letter, Collins said she believed Francis had acted sincerely when he set up the panel in March 2014 with a brief to advise him on concrete steps to ensure the safety of minors within Catholic institutions.

Collins charged that a lack of cooperation on the part of other Vatican offices has stalled the Commission, preventing the implementation of policies meant to protect children and hold clergy accountable for committing or covering up abuse. Saunders had been critical of the commission's prospects from the start.

Between 2004 and 2014, the year the commission was founded, the Vatican defrocked 848 priests and disciplined 2,572 others accused of raping and molesting children. "If they don't have a survivor on that commission, it's like if the board of directors of the American Medical Association [is] only made up of bureaucrats and no doctors".

Collins said the Vatican administration routinely ignored the commission's recommendations, even though they had the backing of Pope Francis.

He voiced his gratitude to her for her willingness to continue working with the commission, specifically "in the education of church leaders", including upcoming courses for new bishops and departments of the Holy See.

The sole Irish member of the Pope's child protection commission has stepped down, three years after joining the Vatican body. "Our prayers will remain with Marie and with all victims and survivors of sexual abuse", the cardinal wrote. She said she thought the problems had more to do with turf battles within the church than ideological or theological arguments, though she said that as an outsider it was hard to be sure.

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