Abuse survivor says new Vatican commission must achieve real change
'The secrecy of the past led to enormous failures,' says commission member Collins
- Sarah MacDonald for Catholic News Service
- March 25, 2014
The lone clerical abuse survivor nominated by Pope Francis to sit on the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said the commission needs to achieve concrete change in order to "show other survivors that the church is going to get it right."
Marie Collins, who was abused by a chaplain as a sick 13-year-old at Crumlin hospital in Dublin in the 1960s, told Catholic News Service that many survivors will be watching the new Vatican commission "with interest, but many will have written it off as merely a PR exercise."
"Survivors will not be satisfied with more words or promises, they need to see real change," she said.
Collins, who campaigns on behalf of abuse victims, said her priority is "a strong worldwide child protection policy which would include sanctions for any member of the church in a position of authority who ignored these rules."
She added that too many bishops who have protected abusive priests have been allowed to remain in place undisciplined.
"I would like to see the way survivors and their families have been treated change. The concentration on often-abusive legalistic responses instead of caring for those hurt needs to end," she said.
The cultural attitude within the church and laws that "categorized child abuse as a moral lapse rather than a criminal offense also have to be tackled," she told CNS.
The Dubliner is seeking greater transparency because "the secrecy of the past led to enormous failures."
The initial eight members of the commission will be free to decide what issues they are going to deal with, how they are going to work and who else will join the commission, Collins told CNS.
Though it is in its early stages, she said her understanding is that the commission will make its recommendations directly to Pope Francis and will not communicate through any Vatican departments.
Asked who else she would like to see on the new commission, she told CNS she would like to see Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin because he "is the template for how child protection should be handled at ground level," and also Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, who really "got it" when it came to addressing clerical sexual abuse.
Collins told CNS that she met another commission member, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, in 2011 as he led the Vatican investigation of the Archdiocese of Dublin and was "very impressed with his openness and his ability to listen."
Source: Catholic News Service