Former Members of Papal Commission Suggest Changes

Headline in NCR: “Exclusive: Former papal abuse commissioners want re-evaluation of group.” NCR took the initiative to interview three former members of Pope Francis’ abuse commission prior to his summit on child abuse. They had suggestions to improve the commission, and provided important insights into its operations.

Marie Collins was one of two victims/survivors on the original commission. She provided a general overview: “The commission itself is sort of a microcosm of the global issue ... that work that's being done doesn't seem to produce results… People put a lot of hope into it, and it has failed to live up to the hope. There should be some examination as to why.” She was too tactful to mention that in her exit interview, Pope Francis made promises that he has not kept.

Marie Collins also discussed a recent interview with Pope Francis. The conversation indicated “there was something going on during the first term [of the abuse commission], either there was things going on that members like me knew nothing about or he was being told things by people in the Curia who wanted to resist the commission and wanted to take control of it.” Collins wrote to the head of the commission, Cardinal O'Malley, in November, asking for an explanation. She has not received one.

Krysten Winter-Green, said “From inception, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has been fraught with critical issues that have impeded progress.” She mentioned personnel issues and improved vetting of future commission members. NCR noted that “Winter-Green, a New Zealander who lives in the U.S. … provides consulting services to dioceses and religious congregations.” This might account for her reluctance to discuss the critical issues that impaired the commission.

Catherine Bonnet provided the most important insight. She said Pope Francis needed to participate: “He never came to one of our meetings. If the commission is only writing reports to Pope Francis … it's not enough.” She also disclosed that the two recommendations the commission gave Pope Francis had not been implemented.

I note that when Marie Collins resigned in protest, she said that its funding was insufficient to permit members to travel to meetings. Also, the Vatican did not provide needed access to canon lawyers to help evaluate alternative proposals. The commission was obviously not a papal priority. Furthermore, he rejected its recommendations.


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