Shock as abuse victim steps down from Vatican Commission
ROME--Irish woman and sexual assault survivor Marie Collins leaves the Vatican Commission sending shockwaves through the media and the Vatican, stating that "our work is felt to be an interference", and that although she felt the Pontiff triedto take initiatives, there were those who oppose him, citing what she called “cultural resistance” from the Vatican.
Marie Collins, who was molested by a priest in Ireland when she was 13, expressed frustration over what she called reluctance among the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy to implement the commission’s recommendations and shockingly even those approved by the pope.
“I feel I have no choice but to resign if I am to retain my integrity" and the lack of action she saw was "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.”
In outlining the initiatives proposed by the commission in the past three years, Ms. Collins spoke of “stumbling blocks” and the difficulties it had faced in getting cooperation from various Vatican departments.
She also said the commission did not have the proper resources to do its job: In its first year, it did not have an office or a staff.
In her three years with the commission, Ms. Collins said she never had the opportunity to meet with the pope. Another issue that showed the discrepancy in importance with which her station was viewed by Vatican officials.
But the last straw, she said, was that a Vatican department was refusing to cooperate with a recommendation that all correspondence from victims of clerical abuse receive a response.
“I find it impossible to listen to public statements about the deep concern in the church for the care of those whose lives have been blighted by abuse, yet to watch privately as a congregation in the Vatican refuses to even acknowledge their letters!” Ms. Collins said.
“The reluctance of some in the Vatican Curia to implement recommendations or cooperate with the work of a commission when the purpose is to improve the safety of children and vulnerable adults around the world is unacceptable,” she saif of the Vatican’s administrative arm.
The commission said in a statement that Francis had “accepted Ms. Collins’s resignation with deep appreciation for her work on behalf of the victims and survivors of clergy abuse.”
In her statement, Ms. Collins noted her disappointment over the reduction of punishments against abusive priests that Francis had allowed in some cases.
Nonetheless, she expressed confidence in Francis’ comprehension of the seriousness of the issue.
“The pope does at heart understand the horror of abuse and the need for those who would hurt minors to be stopped,” she wrote. Francis has in the past stated his support for a zero tolerance policy toward any member of the church being found guilty of sexual abuse although she said she would have asked him to give the commission the power to implement its recommendations, to provide it with more funds and to allow it to recruit outside professionals.