22 February 2018, The Tablet

Collins regrets loss of key personnel in new papal commission

Irish clerical abuse survivor, Marie Collins, has expressed concern over the failure of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to reappoint some of its most experienced members.

Speaking to The Tablet, Ms Collins, who resigned from the commission in March 2017 in protest over curial resistance to the commission’s work, described herself as “particularly depressed” to see that “so many of those who have worked on the ground with victims/survivors and on safeguarding are now gone”.

“It is very disappointing to see these members lost from the commission. Not only because of their specific skills but also the experience and knowledge gained by working on the commission with the Vatican for three years,” she said. She highlighted that of the eight external lay experts from the first term, only two now remain. The working group for the Healing and Care of Victims/

Survivors has lost all three of its lay members and a religious sister is the sole member continuing.

Pope Francis is renewing the mandate of the papal commission after it lapsed in December having completed its three-year term. Cardinal Seán O’Malley returns as president of the advisory body. Eight members of the original commission have had their positions renewed and six have not.

Ms Collins said that the loss of so many members of the previous commission while in the midst of projects was “bound to have a detrimental effect”. According to the Vatican press release, several of the new commission members are themselves victims of abuse. However, Ms Collins expressed concern about the lack of a “survivor advocate” within the new membership, describing it as a “backward step”. She argued that just because someone has suffered abuse as a child does not automatically mean they have the global knowledge of what issues survivors need to see addressed, or the ability to articulate them.

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