We Are Church International is deeply disturbed by the ongoing difficulties faced by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which have led to the resignation of Marie Collins, an outspoken survivor of clerical sexual abuse.
Statements made by Ms. Collins following her resignation indicate that the Commission lacked the resources, respect, and responsiveness needed for their work to be effective. This is a tragic affront to the victims, survivors, families, and parishes impacted by decades of clerical abuse and hierarchical cover up. It indicates that, despite numerous claims of concern and repentance, leaders of the Catholic Church still do not believe that addressing the damage done to so many for so long needs to be a top priority for our Church.
We Are Church International extends its profound respect and gratitude to Marie Collins, and to many others who have fought for justice for clerical abuse survivors, victims, and their families, and for implementation of Church policies and practices that protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse.
We Are Church International further calls on Pope Francis to personally address the issues that have undermined the Commission’s work. The Commission needs an adequate budget and staff to support their work. The Tribunal to hold bishops accountable for protecting abusers and putting additional children at risk must be established, and given the authority to conduct authentic investigations and enforce substantive consequences for those found to have engaged in cover ups of abuse. Most importantly, the Commission needs unfettered access to documents and individuals that have information about past abuse and current practices. The opaque culture of the Vatican and Catholic chanceries around the world must be transformed by a commitment to accountability for any meaningful work to be accomplished.
The abuse of children and vulnerable adults by clerics and the cover up of abuse by Catholic hierarchs is one of the most shameful events in our Church’s history. It has alienated thousands of Catholics around the world and seriously undermined the Church’s moral authority. We Are Church International calls for authentic repentance and a radical transformation of action and belief on the part of our entire Church.
We Are Church International, founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.