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Abuse survivor on Vatican committee accuses Roman Curia of blocking reforms

Marie Collins, right, is a member of the Commission for the Protection of Minors (PA)

The Curia is blocking improvements in the handling of abuse cases, according to a member of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Marie Collins, who was abused when she was 13 by the chaplain at Dublin’s Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin in 1960, has been a member of the abuse commission for two years.

In an interview with the Irish Times, she has expressed her frustration that little is being done by the Curia to push through proposals made by the commission, despite Pope Francis’s support for action.

A Vatican tribunal was set up last year to hold bishops to account on the handling of abuse cases, but Collins says it’s implementation has been slow to materialise.

“We as a commission put forward the proposal. It went to the Council of Cardinals, they approved it. It went forward to the Pope. He approved it. It was announced in the press, then it went to be implemented and that’s where the brick wall is. The implementation is the problem,” Collins said.

At the commission’s very first meeting in 2014 she proposed “that we should develop a training module on child protection and on abuse” so “every new bishop coming through would have some training in the issue and how to handle it and some understanding. That way every new bishop in the world who is appointed from now on would have a good understanding, and that we would work on this training and develop it.”

Later in the year this was “approved by the Holy Father and he actually suggested it be expanded to [include] the Curia as well as the new bishops.” But within the Curia “there was great resistance to it”, she said, adding that it has “become apparent that there are those in the Curia who feel that the commission becoming involved is almost an interference with the work as it has always been done”.

Collins said she was “horrified, absolutely horrified” to hear last week that current Vatican training guidelines for new bishops said it was not necessarily the duty of a bishop to immediately report child clerical abuse suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors.

“It couldn’t be further from best practice if you tried to. It’s the moral duty of any Church leader to report,” she added.

She also told the Irish Times: “I’m personally frustrated with the lack of co-operation from the Curia and the fact it can be so detrimental to the work of the commission and the protection of children in the future. That’s where the focus should be.”

She said she had “made my concerns known to the Pope, very recently. I am waiting to see what comes of it”.