Survivor Quits Pope's Panel On Sex Abuse, Citing 'Shameful' Resistance

A key member of the sex-abuse commission established by Pope Francis has resigned, citing her frustration with the resistance the panel has encountered at the Vatican.

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 previous year for his outspoken criticism, even though he has not resigned or been formally dismissed.

"It is a reflection of how this whole abuse crisis in the church has been handled: with fine words in public and contrary actions behind closed doors", she said.

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.

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. Recently, she says, there was "a specific refusal from a department of the Vatican that I felt was just unacceptable".

When Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston and his team at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors recommended that the pope name Collins and Saunders as members, the intentions were obviously noble.

Krysten Winter-Green, a member of the commission and a social worker who helps abuse survivors, said many prelates within the Vatican strongly support the commission's work, but "there is a tremendous degree of frustration" involved with working within the Vatican bureaucracy.

She said the "last straw" that led to her handing in her letter of resignation was when she learned that the same dicastery that refused to cooperate on the safeguarding guidelines had also refused "to implement one of the simplest recommendations the commission has put forward to date".

Ms Collins became a household name nearly two decades ago when she challenged the late Cardinal Desmond Connell's failure to report to the gardaĆ­ her abuse in childhood by a priest of his diocese.




Ms Collins said "a simple recommendation approved by Pope Francis" late a year ago on a small procedural change to the care of sex abuse victims was refused.

She described the blocking of "a simple recommendation approved by Pope Francis" by Vatican officials late previous year as "the last straw" that led her to resign.

Collins, an Irish woman who suffered abuse by a priest during a hospital stay as a child, is a widely respected and blunt-spoken voice in the survivor community.

Certainly, the bureaucratic inertia and power games described by Collins raise legitimate questions about how serious the Vatican may be in terms of its commitment to reform.

Collins says she is leaving the panel because, as she told The Telegraph, "there are people in the Vatican who do not want to change or understand the need to change".

In a press release, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors praised Collins' "consistent" and "tireless" work on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse by priests.

In the past, Francis has met with abuse victims and begged forgiveness for the church.

The commission will be meeting in Rome March 20-26, and it is expected members will discuss what to do next about participation by other survivors since its mission includes reaching out to and including victims, a source told Catholic News Service. He said she will continue to work with the Commission on training programmes for new bishops and for other offices of the Holy See.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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