Northern Ireland news

Pope Francis accused of being dismissive of clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins

Victims advocate Marie Collins

POPE Francis has been accused of being dismissive of a survivor of clerical abuse by saying she was "fixated" on tribunals.

Marie Collins, who resigned from the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors last year, was among a group which met Francis.

Ms Collins said she was disappointed there would not be a "more open and transparent central accountability process or court" to hold bishops to account.

She said the Pope seemed content that Church leaders were being held accountable. Those found to have covered up are facing internal processes and being removed, she said, however they are resigning and walking away unscathed.

On an in-flight press conference from Dublin to Rome, Pope Francis was asked about Ms Collins's concerns and why he was not favourable to a new tribunal for Vatican inquiries on the issue of abuses.

The Pope said he admired Ms Collins but suggested she did not understand the process of investigation.

"Marie Collins is a bit fixated on the idea that came up. I esteem Marie Collins so much. At times, we call her to give Vatican conferences. She is fixated on the idea, the idea of the madre amorevole (as a loving mother), in which it is said that to judge bishops, that it would be good to have a special tribunal," he said.

"Then, we saw this wasn't practical and it also wasn't convenient for the different cultures of the bishops that had to be judged. You take the recommendations of madre amorevole and you make the giuria (a special commission of bishops) for each bishop, but it's not the same.

"This bishop is judged and the Pope makes a giuria that is more capable of taking that case. It is a thing that works better and also because not all bishops are able to leave their dioceses. It's not possible."

Pope Francis said he he told Ms Collins that "the spirit and also the recommendation of `as a loving mother' is being done".

"A bishop is judged by a tribunal, but it isn't always the same tribunal, as it is not possible. She did not understand that well. But, when I see her, sometimes she comes to the Vatican, I will explain it more clearly. I love her," he added.

Responding on Twitter Ms Collins said the Pope was "probably right in a way".

"Accountability is still a priority in my mind but not sure I would describe myself as fixated," she said.

"I have after all only had the one opportunity to talk to him about it."

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