Wednesday 20 March 2019

Cardinal's ousting should have come sooner - Collins

Church must be more proactive in defrocking clerics who abuse, says survivor

Stock photo
Stock photo

Alan O'Keeffe

The defrocking of the highest ranking Catholic cleric in modern times for sex abuse would have had more value if it happened without public pressure, prominent clerical sex abuse survivor Marie Collins said last night.

Pope Francis has now expelled the former US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from priestly orders after Vatican officials found him guilty of soliciting for sex while hearing confession and sexual crimes against minors and adults.

Ms Collins said the Church needed to take firm action in all cases of clerical sexual abuse and not just when cases become public. The Dublin woman resigned from a Vatican commission on child protection two years ago when she accused Church officials of continuing to put other concerns ahead of protecting children and vulnerable adults.

"The problem in the Church is that when something becomes public, the Church takes action. But in this case, apparently the offences of Cardinal McCarrick were well known to his colleagues for many years but nothing was done," said Ms Collins.

"Instead of being proactive, they were reactive and that's the same in every country where abuse of children was taking place. They have taken the correct steps once it becomes public but when it is still hidden, they don't have the same inclination to take steps.

"It may impress some and it is a step beyond what they have taken before because the cardinal held such a high position. People may take hope from it but I think we've got to see more than just this one action. "The action doesn't have the same sincerity or value to it if it is only done because of public pressure," she said.

McCarrick (88) - former Archbishop of Washington DC - is now banned from saying Mass and all other priestly duties. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith had found McCarrick guilty of "solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power".

Sunday Independent

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