26 August 2018, The Tablet

Abuse survivors voice frustration over meeting with Pope

Marie Collins will this afternoon participate in the #StandforTruth rally organised by clerical abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman

Abuse survivors voice frustration over meeting with Pope

Pilgrims waiting earlier today for Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo
Photo: Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

Irish clerical abuse survivor, Marie Collins, expressed frustration on Sunday over her meeting with Pope Francis in Dublin along with seven other survivors.

Speaking to the Tablet, she said that she had got “disappointing answers” to the questions she put to the Pontiff at the papal nunciature on Saturday afternoon.

Collins, who was abused by a Dublin priest when she was 13, said she had spoken to the Pope about the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

She resigned from the PCPM in March 2017 over the curial resistance to the proposals for reform the commission had drawn up, notably its call for an accountability tribunal for those in church leadership who cover up abuse.

The Pope told Collins that he was happy with the PCPM now that it is fully integrated into the Curia and he said he felt this was a positive development.

“That was hugely disappointing because I thought the whole point of the commission was to be independent. But he seemed to think that now that it was incorporated fully into the curia it would do good work. Originally, the commission was intended to work independently and answer directly to him.”

“To hear this – well, I just despair really.”

Another issue she found the Pope’s response disappointing was the matter of the accountability tribunal which she quizzed him about.

 “He was honest with me and he didn’t try to fudge the issue. He said that he felt that church leaders were being held accountable through internal accountability processes and that when they were found to have covered up they were being removed.”

She said she pointed out that people were not being informed about these outcomes of these accountability processes and instead they seemed to be allowed to resign and walk away “unscathed”.

She said Pope Francis “agreed that it should be more transparent”.

“I was disappointed that he definitely didn’t see the need for any central accountability process. He felt that it was already working – that was disappointing.”

Marie Collins will this afternoon participate in the #StandforTruth rally organised by clerical abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman.

“It is a solidarity event where survivors, if there was any effort to airbrush them out of the Pope’s visit or from the World Meeting of Families, this is to say survivors are still here and we are here in numbers and we have support.”

She stressed that the rally was not an event opposing the visit of Pope Francis.

On Friday, ahead of her meeting with Pope Francis, Marie Collins urged the Pontiff to use his papal powers to “face down” Vatican resistance hampering the introduction of much needed safeguarding reforms.

Speaking to media after addressing the first ever safeguarding discussion at a World Meeting of Families at the RDS, Mrs Collins said Pope Francis “has got powers over and above everybody else. He can no longer countenance this sort of resistance.”

She highlighted that there was still denial in the Catholic Church over clerical abuse.

“It is not imaginary. There are people who would prefer to believe that there are multitudes of false allegations, which we know there aren’t. They also go along with the myth that it is all down to homosexual priests and they like to think it is a media campaign against the church.”

“They also like to think that survivors like myself, who have spoken out, are just enemies of the church who want to destroy the church.” She added: “It is more comfortable to think that.”

  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99