Clerical abuse survivor named to Vatican

by | Mar 23, 2014 | Church

vaticanThe Vatican Insider, among others, reports … “An Irish woman who suffered sex abuse by a priest at the age of 13 talks to “Vatican Insider” about her experience. The Pope has nominated her a member of the Vatican Commission for the for the Protection of Minors”

The story continues with more background.

It’s the kind of news story that would have seemed like science fiction about a year ago. But now, thanks to Francis’ firm decision to continue the work Benedict XVI began before him, Mary Collins, an Irish woman who was abused by a priest when she was just 13 years old, has been nominated a member of the Holy See’s new anti-paedophilia Commission. A woman that was abused in the Church as a child is being involved at the highest level of decision-making to ensure that existing rules and regulations are translated into a real change in mentality among the Church hierarchies.

“I was hoping there would be a survivor or a representative of a survivor group on the Commission but had no idea I would be appointed – Marie Collins said to Vatican Insider – It came as a complete surprise. I feel the setting up of this Commission is a very positive move by Pope Francis.  It has the potential to bring real change to how the issue of child protection and the pastoral care of survivors is handle in the future”.

“There will be a lot of work to do. As a survivor of clerical abuse – she explained – it has been a long and difficult journey. My trust and respect for the Catholic church has been undermined by how my case and the general issue of child abuse has been handle.  There have been times when I wondered if I should walk away.  So finding myself now taking part in a Commission at this level in the Vatican is something I could never have foreseen.  However I feel that the opportunity for the voice of a survivor to be heard must be taken.

Marie Collins was nominated as one of the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors yesterday, when Pope Francis nominated the first eight members of the special Commission instituted to prevent abuse in the Church. The new Commission is made up of four men and four women from different countries, including Collins and Franciscan Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and a member of the Pope’s eight-member Council of Cardinals. O’Malley had announced the establishment of a special anti-paedophilia Commission last December. The other individuals selected are: Catherine Bonnet (France); Sheila Hollins (Britain); Claudio Papale, an Italian jurist and Professor of Canonical Law at the Pontifical Urbaniana University; former Polish ambassador Hanna Suchocka; the Jesuit priest Humberto Miguel Yanez (Argentina) and the Dean of the Gregorian Faculty, Hans Zollner (Germany).

The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, announced the first nominations explaining that “the Commission created by Francis to protect minors from sex abuse, is part of the Pope’s mission to respond to his sacred duty of ensuring the safety of young people.” “There will be other members chosen from various parts of the world joining this initial group,” he added.

For the time being, most of the eight members that form the structure’s foundation are European. This is in order “to make meetings easier,” the Vatican spokesman said. “The Commission believes the Church has a crucial role to play in this field and intends to look towards the future without forgetting the past, adopting a multifaceted approach to ensure the protection of minors. This includes education to prevent the exploitation of children, the adoption of criminal procedures where offences are committed against minors civil and canonical duties and responsibilities, development of best-practices identified and developed within society as a whole,” Lombardi said.

The newly established Commission is now called to work quickly and collaborate in a number of tasks, including:  the development of a definitive Commission structure, outlining its aim and responsibilities and suggesting more candidates, particularly from other continents and countries, who can be called to serve the Commission.”

Lombardi stressed that the Pope’s initiative is a continuation of the work begun by his predecessors and added: With this new act Bergoglio makes it very clear that the Church must make child protection one of its top priorities. To promote this initiative the Pope has indicated the names of a number of highly qualified individuals who are known for their commitment in this field.”

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, congratulated Collins on her nomination saying: “Her contribution to the work of child protection in the Archdiocese of Dublin has been crucial and her advice and critical comment have been of invaluable help and inspiration to me personally.”


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