Wednesday 22 November 2017

Survivor rubbishes Vatican claim that it helped abuse probe

Marie Collins resigned from the body in frustration Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
Marie Collins resigned from the body in frustration Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

Nicole Winfield

Prominent Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins has challenged a top Vatican cardinal over his claims that his office had co-operated with Pope Francis's sex abuse advisory commission.

In an open letter, Ms Collins pressed her case that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had ignored or scuttled commission proposals to protect children and care for abuse victims.

Ms Collins pointedly corrected Cardinal Gerhard Mueller's assertion that one of the congregation's staffers was a member of the board, when in fact he stopped participating in 2015.

She noted that the commission's 2015 invitation to have another congregation official attend its meetings was flat-out rejected, though someone eventually attended last year.

Read more: Survivor quits abuse reform body in Vatican

Ms Collins resigned from the commission on March 1, citing the "unacceptable" lack of cooperation from Cardinal Mueller's office, which processes canonical cases against paedophile priests.

Her departure left the commission without any abuse survivors, and dealt another blow to Pope Francis's record on combating sex abuse.

In the days after Ms Collins's departure, Cardinal Mueller responded to her criticisms by telling Italy's 'Corriere della Sera' newspaper it was time to do away with the "cliché" that Vatican bureaucracy was resisting Pope Francis's initiatives.

But the Cardinal admitted that he opposed the commission's proposal, approved by the Pope, to send letters to abuse victims acknowledging that their cases were being processed. He also confirmed that the congregation and other Vatican offices had opposed the commission's proposal to create a tribunal section to hear cases of bishops who botched handling abuse claims.

He said the decision to scrap the proposed tribunal section inside the congregation was made because other Vatican offices "already had the competences, the tools and judicial means" to judge negligent bishops.

In her reply published in the 'National Catholic Reporter', Ms Collins expressed shock Cardinal Mueller considered the tribunal a mere proposal.

She that in June 10, 2015, an official statement said Pope Francis had already authorised resources to fund it.

She also said that if the Vatican already had adequate means to judge negligent bishops, "why, then, has no bishop been officially, transparently sanctioned or removed for this negligence?"

"If it is not lack of laws, then is it lack of will?" she asked.

Irish Independent

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