Vatican event on sex abuse 'changing point' for survivor


IRISH CLERICAL sex abuse survivor Marie Collins yesterday suggested that her attendance of this week’s “Towards Healing And Renewal” conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome has represented a “huge changing point” for her.

Speaking on a day when the Holy See’s promoter of justice, Maltese Monsignor Charles Scicluna, made reference to the “deadly culture of silence or omertà” that has pervaded the Catholic Church’s reaction to the sex abuse crisis, Ms Collins said: “It has been a huge changing point for me personally for how I feel about the church.  I came here quite suspicious, quite cynical, wondering if there was sincerity about this.

“I listened to Monsignor Scicluna this morning and I felt everything he said was very clear, very direct.

“Any bishop listening to him could not have been under any misapprehension about what he was saying about reporting, about putting in place guidelines, about secrecy, about everything that we survivors have been asking for.”

Ms Collins also said she found a Tuesday night penitential Mass, presided over by the prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouillet, “quite moving”.  She said that the sight of senior church figures, including Irish Primate, Cardinal Sean Brady, “basically asking forgiveness for what the church has done in the past”, represented something that would not have happened even five years ago.

Asked about Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin who had not been invited to this week’s conference, she said: “He already gets it, he already knows how to do it and he is already doing what these bishops are being taught at this symposium.

“In a way I don’t think he needed to be here because he is already on the right track, I don’t think he had a lot to learn from coming to this ... maybe the bishops that are here are the ones that need to be here to learn. From that point of view, it is no snub to him that he is not here.”

At a news conference yesterday Monsignor Scicluna said that the “extraordinary witness of Marie Collins” this week had underlined the need for full and total co-operation with civil authorities in fighting clerical sex abuse, adding: “Concerning co-operation with the civil authorities, I am on record and Cardinal Levada said it on Monday here and you have it in the circular letter sent to the conferences of bishops – namely we have a duty to co-operate with civil authorities in a common fight against crime. And when I say co-operation I mean full co-operation.”