New Trial Balloon for Papal Sex Abuse Commission
After the resignation of Marie Collins, the last abuse victim that was a member of the commission, many thought the commission had failed. It was in ill repute, and even Pope Francis agreed with some of the criticisms. While Francis never said which criticisms he agreed with, he indicated that he would be making changes. This was in March, nearly half a year ago, and nothing has happened. Now NCR tells us of a proposed change (here).
When Pope Francis spoke of changes, people expected he might give the commission sorely needed resources, like more money and/or access to a canon lawyer. Since Marie Collins complained of the commission’s being impeded by the Curia, some expected appropriate organizational changes.
But it appears that Pope Francis had something different in mind. The two victims he originally appointed to the commission gave him nothing but trouble, complaining that it was a do-nothing organization that was being prevented from accomplishing anything useful. It appears that the problem Pope Francis chose to address was the poor cosmetic results created by those victims' complaints. The proposed change is to keep all victims off the abuse commission. Instead, the committee will organize a new group of victims for advisory purposes only. Evidently, the feeling is that complaints from victims on a powerless advisory committee will have much less impact than complaints from members of the current papal committee – which was powerless to begin with.
It sounds strange, but this is all smoke and mirrors. The Pope and his advisors may well be correct in assuming that the religious and mainstream media will ignore bad news from an advisory group. After all, they are quite adept at ignoring bad news from other sources. With any luck, his abuse commission can go on doing nothing, and Pope Francis can proclaim it a great success.