Marie Collins resigns from Vatican abuse commission
- Author: Megan Austin Mar 02, 2017,
Mar 02, 2017, 0:44
However, if one looks at the situation dispassionately, there's also a case to be made that Collins's resignation, along with the inactive status of the only other survivor on the commission, Peter Saunders of the United Kingdom, was both inevitable and arguably for the best.
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.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, who heads the commission, also thanked her for her work and said the commission would look at her concerns at a meeting next month.
Elaborating on her reasons for resigning, Collins said in her statement to the National Catholic Reporter that she was frustrated by the lack of resources and authority given to the panel.
Ms Collins, who was raped at age 13 by a hospital chaplain in Ireland, was the only active abuse survivor on the commission after British abuse survivor, Peter Saunders, was stood aside by the Vatican panel past year for his outspoken criticism, even though he has not resigned or been formally dismissed.
"I find it shameful", Collins said. "I feel I have no choice but to resign if I am to retain my integrity".
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.
She described the blocking of "a simple recommendation approved by Pope Francis" by Vatican officials late past year as "the last straw" that led her to resign.
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In her March 1 statement for NCR, Collins also expresses frustration that a sample template of guidelines for safeguarding children developed by the commission has not yet been published.
She was one of a number of survivors who persuaded the cardinal to establish a child protection office and three years ago was recommended for appointment to Pope Francis' unprecedented Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Collins, the only member of the panel who abstained from the vote to suspend Saunders, wrote at the time that it was unclear to some whether Saunders could work constructively and confidentially within the confines of the commission's mission.
"The last straw for me", she said, came when a Vatican dicastery-apparently the Congregation for Bishops-refused to implement the PCPM directive that every abuse victim who contacted Church officials should receive a response.
Collins also mentions the commission's request, approved by the pope, that the Vatican create a new tribunal to judge bishops who act inappropriately in sexual abuse cases. O'Malley understands from extensive personal experience that if you want to understand the spiritual and emotional devastation caused by clerical sexual abuse, there simply is no substitute for hearing the voices of survivors.
"I cannot at this point accept that there are still men in the Vatican, still men in those positions, that would resist the work to protect children, that still have the attitudes of 20 years ago", she said. "We will certainly listen carefully to all that Marie wishes to share with us about her concerns and we will greatly miss her important contributions as a member of the Commission". Even though the idea was backed by Francis and announced in June 2015, it was found to have unspecified legal difficulties by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church body that primarily deals with abuse accusations. "I really do not know where it comes from, but I do know that it does a grave disservice to survivors and victims and it doesn't really promote the healing and care that the commission is about".
Then Collins says she learned that the uncooperative department was refusing to send responses.