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Republic of Ireland news

Sex abuse survivor Marie Collins quits Vatican child protection panel

Many inquires have been launched to expose the scale of sex abuse in the Catholic church
Brian Hutton, Press Association

A clerical sex abuse survivor has quit a Vatican panel set up by Pope Francis to deal with paedophile priest scandals over a "shameful" lack of co-operation.

Marie Collins accused some Vatican bureaucrats of "resistance" to the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and even blocking reforms backed by the Pope.

"I can not at this point accept that there are still men in the Vatican, still men in those positions, that would resist the work to protect children, that still have the attitudes of 20 years ago," she said.

Ms Collins said the clericalism of some officials, who see other issues as more important, meant she could no longer stay in her role and still retain her integrity.

Appointed to the commission three years ago, she stressed the "genuine wish" and sincerity by Pope Francis to deal with clerical sexual abuse by bringing in outside expertise.

"However, despite the Holy Father approving all the recommendations made to him by the commission, there have been constant setbacks," she said in her resignation statement.

"This has been directly due to the resistance by some members of the Vatican Curia to the work of the Commission.

"The lack of co-operation, particularly by the dicastery (Vatican department) most closely involved in dealing with cases of abuse, has been shameful."

Ms Collins said "a simple recommendation approved by Pope Francis" late last year on a small procedural change to the care of sex abuse victims was refused.

At the same time, a request for co-operation on a "fundamental issue of commission work in regard to safeguarding was also refused."

She said: "While I hope the commission will succeed in overcoming this resistance, for me it is the last straw."

Dubliner Ms Collins became a household name in Ireland when she went public about being sexually abused as a child during the 1960s by a priest in a children's hospital.

Her bravery was instrumental in encouraging other survivors to come forward, ultimately forcing the Irish State to launch several inquires which exposed the scale of sex abuse in the Catholic church.

One in Four, an organisation which supports sex abuse victims, said Ms Collins's resignation brings into question the sincerity of top level Vatican personnel in responding to survivors.

Executive Director Maeve Lewis said: "The way in which the Curia stymied most recommendations of the commission shows a reluctance to accept the reality of clerical sexual abuse.

"Despite all the protestations of commitment to child protection, it appears that very little has really changed.

"Many survivors would like to remain within the Catholic Church and they had placed a great deal of confidence in the commission because of Marie's participation.

"They will be disappointed and distressed today."

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin paid tribute to the work of Ms Collins.

"I have learned above all to see in her a person of integrity who is not afraid to chart her own course," he said.

"Where things were wrong, she identified them and named them. When she felt uncomfortable, she was never tempted to take the easy path and remain quiet and I am certain that will be her position in the future."

The archbishop said victims and survivors owe Ms Collins an enormous debt.

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