Thursday 18 October 2018

Call for Pope Francis to meet abuse survivor Marie Collins during visit to Ireland

Clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins
Clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins

Sarah Mac Donald

A meeting between Pope Francis and clerical abuse survivor, Marie Collins, must be on the papal agenda when the Pope visits Ireland next August, a Catholic lobby group has said.

We Are Church Ireland (WACI), a lobby group seeking to liberalise some of Catholicism’s structures and sexual teachings, said a personal meeting with Collins would show the Pope’s appreciation of her “valuable work” on the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Marie Collins resigned from the Commission on March 1 2017, after three years, in protest over a lack of funding and resources, inadequate support staff, and the Curia’s “cultural resistance” towards progress on issues such as bishops’ accountability for mishandling abuse allegations.

Criticisms have been made of the Pope and the Curia over the plight of the Commission which appears to have been allowed to lapse since before Christmas, with no new commission members announced.

Spokesman for WACI, Brendan Butler, also criticised the lack of any formal meeting between the Pontiff and Marie Collins during the time she served on the Commission. He said Mrs Collins, who was abused by a Dublin priest in the 1960s, had only received a handshake from the Pope.

Responding to the call by WACI, Marie Collins, criticised the fact that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is “in abeyance” describing the situation as “a disgrace”.

Speaking to Independent.ie, she said the Commission’s second term should have begun “immediately”.

She hit out at the Vatican over the fact that the appointment of new members for this second term had not been announced nor had the names of those first term members being retained for a second term. 

“The administrative office in the Vatican continues but with no members appointed, and no official explanation as to why not, those who care for the future of the Commission are left in the dark.”

“If I was to meet with the Pope I would ask him why he has allowed this situation to come about,” she stated, but added that she herself was not personally requesting a meeting with the Pontiff.

She clarified that she met the Pope on three separate occasions over the time she served on the Pontifical Commission.

“I met the Holy Father on three occasions, each time it was a handshake and an exchange of greetings after attending one of his masses.” There was no formal meeting between the two.

Two other Irish survivors did meet Pope Francis in July 2015 and while Marie Collins sat in on one meetings between the Pope and the survivor, she was there as moral support to the victim and so she was not in a position to speak to the Pope, she said.

However, she revealed that she communicated with the Pope by letter in 2016 to which he responded personally. 

‘We are Church Ireland’ has written to Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin and the Papal Nuncio requesting a meeting between the Pope and Marie Collins but so far, the only response they have received has been and acknowledgement of their letter from the Papal Nuncio.

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