The Pope’s Child Abuse Commission – An Update

We previously noted (Bishops and Child Abuse) that Marie Collins, the only remaining abuse victim on the Commission, resigned. She complained that it accomplished very little and was under-resourced. The Vatican did not even provide the Commission access to a canon lawyer, so it could not determine whether potential proposals were “legal” or feasible.

The Commission has been in existence nearly four years, and accomplished almost nothing. Following Ms. Collin’s resignation, many commentators thought it was doomed, and some publicly complained about the Vatican’s efforts to resolve the child abuse problem.

Then Pope Francis commented (here) on Marie Collins’ resignation: “'She’s right on some things,' he acknowledged, saying 'there are too many delayed cases … backed up here,’ referring to the Vatican.” He promised to add more people to deal with the cases.

This appeared to satisfy everyone. The damage was controlled. No one mentioned the fact that not a single case had ever moved through the process, suggesting that the problem was not simply one of insufficient staffing. None of the many Vatican reporters raised any questions about other complaints of Ms. Collins, such as inadequate financial support and insuffcient access to a canon lawyer. Ms. Collins met with the pope, and said she was happy with his response. She did not repeat any of her complaints about matters that Pope Francis failed to address.

This took place months ago. Nothing further has been heard from the commission. But NCR (National Catholic Reporter) has raised additional issues, which I will discuss later.