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Marie Collins thanks members of Vatican commission on abuse for support

Irish abuse survivior Marie Collins,who is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, with Cardinal Sean O'Malley (CNS)

Marie Collins, the abuse survivor who recently resigned from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, has thanked members of the commission for supporting her.

Collins, a founding member of the commission resigned on March 1, citing what she called “unacceptable” resistance to the commission’s proposals from the Vatican’s doctrine office, which is responsible for processing cases against abusive priests.

Collins mentioned in particular the alleged refusal by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to implement proposals approved by the Pope and to collaborate with the commission.

In a statement on Sunday, the commission expressed support for Collins and, separately, several members said they agreed fully with her criticism of the doctrine office.

Catherine Bonnet, a French child psychiatrist and author on child sex abuse, said: “What Marie has said is the truth. It is more than the voice of a survivor. She has a general view of what is needed.”

In a series of tweets on Monday, the Irish abuse survivor said she “appreciated the support of the Pontifical Commission members” and appeared to specifically thank Bonnet for “confirming” that she was “telling the truth” over her resignation.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Crux, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who heads up the commission, said that Collins will join him in Rome in April to give “a curial presentation” and that her “relationship (with the commission) continues to be strong”.

When asked about the disagreement between Collins and the CDF, Cardinal O’Malley said “the idea simply was to give the CDF the jurisdiction over these (abuse) cases” but that when Pope Francis presented this proposal to his staff, “that’s when it was altered”.

In the days after Collins’s departure, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who runs the CDF, responded to her criticisms by telling Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper that it was time to do away with what he called the “cliche” that the Vatican bureaucracy was resisting Francis’s initiatives.

However, Cardinal Müller admitted that he opposed the commission’s proposal, approved by the Pope, to send letters to abuse victims acknowledging that their cases were being processed. And he confirmed that the congregation and other Vatican offices had opposed the commission’s proposal, approved by the Pope, to create a tribunal section to hear cases of bishops who botched handling abuse claims.

Speaking about the proposed reforms, Cardinal O’Malley said: “The intention was the same, to deal with the responsibility of bishops who had abused their authority by not attending to these cases, or by transferring priests who were paedophiles.

“Our original plan, developed by one of our members who was also a member of the CDF, was that the responsibility would be there. In the meantime, something else was substituted for what we had asked for.”

Cardinal O’Malley told Crux that currently the responsibility for looking into abuse cases rests with the Congregation for Bishops.

In the interview, the cardinal also discussed Peter Saunders, the abuse survivor, who took “a leave of absence” from the commission in June of last year after his strong criticisms of the speed of Vatican reforms.

Cardinal O’Malley said Saunders was “in a good place” and “very much involved with this commission in England”. However, he added that it was “unlikely” Saunders would return to being “an active member” of the commission as “this particular commission only has one more plenary”.