Pope Francis Advisor Quits Over 'Shameful' Pedophile Cover-up
Catholic Church sex abuse resistance within the Vatican
The leading member of an advising body, set up to advise Pope Francis on how to root out pedophilia and sex abuse in the Catholic Church, has quit citing a "shameful" cover-up by the Vatican.
Marie Collins, who was the head of the Pontifical Commission For The Protection Of Minors and the last remaining survivor of priestly abuse on a Holy See commission, claims that the Vatican's constant interference in cases involving pedophile priests has prevented any progress from the group since it was set up in 2014.
She criticized the Pope for appearing to have a "genuine wish" in public to solve the "epidemic" of pedophilia in the Church, but "behind closed doors", he is "too forgiving" of priests that sexually abuse children.
In a statement, Collins said;
"The lack of cooperation, particularly by the dicastery most closely involved in dealing with cases of abuse, has been shameful."
The Pope recently came under fire for reducing the penalties against sex offending priests, claiming that he wants to create a more "merciful Church".
Reuters reports: She told the National Catholic Reporter that in her three years on the commission she had never been able to speak to the pontiff, and denounced those who surround him.
"It is devastating in 2017 to see that these men still can put other concerns before the safety of children and vulnerable adults," she said, listing a string of cases in which she said the commission's work had been hampered by Church officials.
The Vatican said the pope had accepted her resignation "with deep appreciation for her work on behalf of the victims/survivors of clergy abuse".
Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, who heads the commission, also thanked her for her work and said the commission would look at her concerns at a meeting next month.
Collins said, "the last straw" was when she discovered that the Curia had been ignoring a specific request by the pope, on the commission's recommendation, that all correspondence to the Vatican from abuse victims should receive a response.
"It is a reflection of how this whole abuse crisis in the Church has been handled: with fine words in public and contrary actions behind closed doors," she said.
Thousands of cases of sexual and physical abuse of youths by priests have come to light around the world in recent years as investigations have encouraged long-silent victims to finally go public with their complaints.
Victim support groups have repeatedly attacked the Vatican for its response to the crisis since it first emerged in the United States in 2002, saying successive popes have failed to grasp the gravity of the situation.
While acknowledging Francis's good intentions on ending sex abuse, Collins said he was misguided and ineffective.
"I feel (he) does not appreciate how his actions of clemency undermine everything else he does in this area," she said, referring to a recent report that the pope had reduced sanctions against several pedophile priests who had sought clemency.
In February last year Briton Peter Saunders, the only other member of the commission who had suffered clerical sexual abuse, left to take a leave of absence after repeatedly criticizing the commission's work. It is unclear if he will return.
Saunders and Collins both threatened to resign as long ago as February 2015 unless bishops were made more accountable over cover-ups of rampant sexual abuse or failing to prevent it.