Criticisms of the Vatican’s sexual abuse commission need to be taken seriously, not written off as clichés

 (CNS photo/Carol Glatz) 

The presence of Marie Collins on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors seemed to guarantee both the commission’s seriousness and its effectiveness. Many believed that Ms. Collins, an outspoken survivor of clergy sexual abuse, would not allow the Vatican to ignore the urgent need to combat sex abuse and provide adequate protection for minors. That is why her resignation from the commission on March 1 was such a blow. In a letter published in The National Catholic Reporter on March 14, Ms. Collins said that “lack of resources, inadequate structures around support staff, slowness of forward movement and cultural resistance” made the commission’s work nearly impossible. In a later interview with America, she pointed to the resistance from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to adhere to Pope Francis’ instruction that Vatican departments should acknowledge every letter received from victims of abuse.

 

That prompted a response by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the C.D.F., dismissing Ms. Collins’s concern as fostering a “cliché” that pitted the Roman Curia against Pope Francis, and saying that “local shepherds” are better suited to respond to letters from abuse victims. That, in turn, led to an extraordinary statement from Ms. Collins rebutting his account and even correcting the cardinal’s statement that he had never met her. Overall, she said, “I would ask that instead of falling back into the church's default position of denial and obfuscation, when a criticism like mine is raised the people of the church deserve to be given a proper explanation. We are entitled to transparency, honesty and clarity.” Especially in the area of sexual abuse, where the church ignored and minimized reports for decades, the need for transparency must be evaluated from the perspective of the victims of abuse.

That the lone survivor of abuse active on the papal commission has resigned is tragic.

That the lone survivor of abuse active on the papal commission has resigned is tragic. For the health of the church, it is essential that even though Marie Collins’s voice will no longer be heard on the commission, the issues that led to her departure be dealt with swiftly.

Richard Booth
3 months ago

The bureaucratic hierarchy of the Church has not broken precedent. It continues to block and ignore until even important missions fizzle out. I pity Francis for having to deal with these people and honor Ms Collins for her work despite them. She will be missed by the male hierarchy, on the whole, for about a nanosecond. Very sad, but typical of the Church. Where do we look to find holiness in these men?

MICHAEL SKIENDZIELEWSKI
3 months ago

Yes, indeed, Mr. Booth.....where do we look to find holiness in these MEN? In other words, how do they stand upright?
On the other hand, I have noticed that the commission meetings including many dicasteries from the RCC................I recommend a name change to "disasteries".

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

I’ve only been a priest for 13 years. How could I possibly be at the point that I am just recycling ideas?
Jim McDermottJune 27, 2017
People gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26 in Washington. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA) 
The high court, in a 7-2 ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, sided with the religious school.
Activists rally outside U.S. Supreme Court in Washington June 26 after the court sided with Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., which sued after being denied a state grant for creating a safer playground (CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, Reuters). 
The Supreme Court court ruled on June 26 that the government may not exclude religious groups from grant programs simply because they are religious.
Ellen K. BoegelJune 27, 2017
Pope Francis laughs as he greets a woman during an audience with people from Lyon, France, in Paul VI hall at the Vatican July 6. The audience was with 200 people living in difficult or precarious situations. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
The pope's words can be read as an answer to those who hope his pontificate may end soon.
Gerard O'ConnellJune 27, 2017