In an article for the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) on Wednesday, 70-year-old Marie Collins announced that she had quit the pope’s commission for child protection, leaving the Pontifical Commission on the Protection of Minors with no abuse survivors working for it.
Her departure marks yet another blow to Pope Francis’ attempts to show that the Vatican is effectively combating child abuse in the Church, which has profoundly damaged its image in recent decades.
In her resignation letter, Collins said that “despite the Holy Father approving all the recommendations made to him by the Commission, there have been constant setbacks.”
Frustrated at an alleged lack of cooperation from other Vatican offices, known as the Curia, Collins – who was raped by a hospital chaplin at the age of 13 – said that as a survivor, she had “watched events unfold with dismay.”
Fear of change
Continuing her explanation, Collins asked whether the ongoing reluctance to address the problem is “driven by internal politics, fear of change, clericalism which instills a belief that ‘they know best’ or a closed mindset which sees abuse as an inconvenience or a clinging to old institutional attitudes?”
Pope Francis said that through the commision, the Catholic Church aimed to “‘ensure that crimes such as those which have occurred are no longer repeated’
Collins said she didn’t know the answer, “but it is devastating in 2017 to see that these men still can put other concerns before the safety of children and vulnerable adults.”
“I have come to the point where I can no longer be sustained by hope,” she added.
A statement from the commission said the pontiff had “accepted Mrs Collins’ resignation with deep appreciation for her work on behalf of the victims/survivors of clergy abuse.”
The commission in question was set up in 2014 by Pope Francis, who said its purpose was to “propose to me the most opportune initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults, in order that we may do everything possible to ensure that crimes such as those which have occurred are no longer repeated in the church.”
A systematic cover-up by bishops and other hierarchy across numerous Catholic dioceses around the world led to decades of deceit linked to the crimes of pedophile priests who raped children and committed other sexual abuse.
ksb/bw (Reuters, AFP, AP)