Irishwoman Marie Collins has resigned in frustration from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, a committee Pope Francis set up three years ago to look into better protection for children from sex abuse in the Catholic Church.
The final straw, Marie Collins wrote in a scathing statement, was when found out that the Vatican has failed to implement one of the commission's most straightforward recommendations: to simply reply to all correspondence from victims of sexual abuse.
Ms Collins, who was raped at age 13 by a hospital chaplain in Ireland, was the only active abuse survivor on the commission after British abuse survivor, Peter Saunders, was stood aside by the Vatican panel previous year for his outspoken criticism, even though he has not resigned or been formally dismissed. Collins, a survivor herself, claimed that the Vatican isn't addressing child sex abuse in the church at all, and blames the Commission's failure to make progress on "lack of resources, inadequate structures around support staff, slowness of forward movement and cultural resistance", according to a statement published by the National Catholic Reporter.
"This has been directly due to the resistance by some members of the Vatican Curia (administration) to the work of the Commission".
"I cannot at this point accept that there are still men in the Vatican, still men in those positions, that would resist the work to protect children, that still have the attitudes of 20 years ago", she said.
Her departure marks yet another blow to Pope Francis' attempts to show that the Vatican is effectively combating child abuse in the Church, which has profoundly damaged its image in recent decades.
In a statement, O'Malley thanked Collins for her "extraordinary contributions".
Marie Collins, who joined the commission when it was established in 2014, said: "The reluctance of some in the Vatican Curia to implement recommendations or cooperate with the work of a commission when the goal is to improve the safety of children and vulnerable adults around the world is unacceptable".
"I have learned above all to see in her a person of integrity who is not afraid to chart her own course".
In a March 1 statement coinciding with the announcement of Collins' resignation, Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, who heads the commission, voiced "our most honest thanks for the extraordinary contributions she has made as a founding member of the commission". It left both Collins and Saunders in an especially hard spot, because their fellow survivors looked to them to speak up, to lead the protests, and yet their institutional role on the commission made doing so politically complicated. He said he and the entire commission "will greatly miss her".
"Here you have an issue that really has to have input from survivors", he said. The cardinal, in turn, said that the group hope to continue working with Collins, and announced that she would participate in a PCPM briefing for newly appointed bishps. He refused to resign, and so was placed on a "leave of absence" by the other commission members.
"I don't know the reasons".
Collins, an Irish woman who suffered abuse by a priest during a hospital stay as a child, is a widely respected and blunt-spoken voice in the survivor community. "They have no power".
Asked what she might say to an abuse survivor who thinks it is not appropriate for a Vatican commission on abuse to not have a member who is a survivor, Winter-Green responded: "I would have to agree".
"Where things were wrong she identified them and named them; when she felt uncomfortable she was never tempted to take the easy path and remain quiet and I am certain that will be her position in the future". "In fact, I would go so far as to say I would insist on survivor participation".
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