Exclusive: Former papal abuse commissioners want re-evaluation of group

National Catholic Reporter

December 27, 2018

By Joshua J. McElwee

Three former members of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse are calling on the pontiff’s February Vatican summit on child protection to reevaluate the structure of the group in order to make it more effective in pursuing policy reforms.

In separate NCR interviews, the former papal advisors emphasized the need for the commission to reassert its independence from the Vatican’s bureaucracy, to oversee implementation of its own recommendations, and to meet regularly with Francis.

Several outside experts with long histories in confronting clergy abuse echoed their concerns, and highlighted a lack of clarity and transparency over the purpose and objectives of the now four-year-old group.

Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor who resigned from the commission in 2017, said the role of the commission might merit special discussion at the February summit because the frustrations over its work exemplify how the Catholic Church has struggled for decades to address the abuse crisis.

“The commission itself is sort of a microcosm of the global issue … that work that’s being done doesn’t seem to produce results,” she said.

“We need clarity now about the commission, its purpose, its powers, its future, and exactly where it is going and what we can expect from it,” said Collins, who left the group in mid-2017 due to frustration with Vatican officials.

“People put a lot of hope into it, and it has failed to live up to the hope,” she added. “There should be some examination as to why.”

Related: Marie Collins: With Irish survivors, Francis said he’s not considering new accountability tribunal
Krysten Winter-Green, one of six commission members not reappointed by Francis in early 2018 after the end of the group’s first three-year term, said she doubted the summit would have the role of the commission on its agenda, but added: “As far as I am concerned, it really should be.”

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