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.
From the statement of Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta at the Royal Commission into Institutional response to child abuse in Australia - February 2017
I do believe that the marginalisation of women and the laity is part of this culture of clericalism that contributes not insignificantly to the sexual abuse crisis, and I think if we are serious about reform, this is one of the areas that we need to look at.
Accountability in that perfect Church model only works upwards. You’re accountable to the person above you. As long as the bishop has the backing of the Pope, he’s safe. As long as the priest has the backing of his bishop, he’s safe. There’s no accountability that reaches outwards or downwards, and that’s the critical problem, as far as I see. That discipleship of equals calls into question that upward accountability that is in operation as a result of that ecclesiastical model of a perfect society where everyone knows their place and the pecking order is strictly dictated by ordination.
The laity have no meaningful or direct participation in the appointment, supervision and even removal of the parish priest. I think that needs to change. Or even at the episcopal level, the appointment, supervision and removal of a bishop is virtually excluded from the faithful. The Morris affair is a typical example of that. There’s no accountability to the faithful there. So that needs to be examined if we are serious about creating a new culture of accountability in the Church today.
From the statement of Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta at the Royal Commission into Institutional response to child abuse in Australia.
I see the clericalism as a by-product of a certain model of Church informed or underpinned or sustained by a certain theology. I mean, it’s no secret that we have been operating, at least under the two previous pontificates, from what I’d describe as a perfect society model where there is a neat, almost divinely inspired, pecking order, and that pecking order is heavily tilted towards the ordained. So you have the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, religious, consecrated men and women, and the laity right at the bottom of the pyramid.
I think we need to dismantle that model of Church. If I could use the biblical image of wineskins, it’s old wineskins that are no longer relevant, no longer able to contain the new wine, if you like. I think we really need to examine seriously that kind of model of Church where it promotes the superiority of the ordained and it facilitates that power imbalance between the ordained and the non-ordained, which in turn facilitates that attitude of clericalism, if you like.
By Paul Collins and Tony Flannery
He who is the object of an enquiry should be present at the process, and, unless absent through contumacy, should have the various headings of the enquiry explained to him, so as to allow him the possibility of defending himself. As well, he is to be informed not only of what the various witnesses have accused him of, but also of the names of those witnesses. (Fourth Lateran Council, 1215)
Nowadays it is widely agreed in the church that the processes and procedures of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) are contrary to natural justice and in need of reform. They represent the legal principles, processes and attitudes of the absolutism of sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe. They don’t reflect the gospel values of justice, truth, integrity and mercy that the church professes to uphold. They are out of keeping with contemporary concepts of human rights, accountability and transparency that the world expects from the Christian community and which the Catholic Church demands from secular organizations. The purpose of this proposed new approach is to reflect the attitude of Jesus (Matthew 18:15-17) and to integrate values that the world sees as basic to a functioning, civilized society.
We Are Church International very critical about Trump orders
[ Italian ]
Halting and undermining the refugees, the immigrants, the Muslims, seeing social diversity as cause for fear, attacking the religious liberty, and building a US-Mexico border wall are offences to all of humanity.
We, We Are Church International, are deeply concerned as Christians, and as humans and we strongly speak out against this blatant disregard for human rights.
We speak with the same words of our sisters and brothers in USA, especially those of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and of Pax Christi. They affirm the “God's call to welcome the stranger (Mt. 25:35) and to care for those most in need (Mt 25:40)”. They affirm “We need a country where people feel safe, welcomed, and know the only prerequisite for their rights is being human”
We are convinced, according to the Gospel, that people all over the world, no matter their skin colour, or religion, or social conditions, or country of origin, or sexual orientations are brothers and sisters, and that we must have compassion and take responsibility for each other.
We are committed to the vision of justice that trumps hate and builds bridges instead of walls.
We proclaim peace and justice first, for all the people of the world.
Rome, February 2017