Appointment to Vatican council a huge responsibility, says Marie Collins

‘I just want to get in there and speak up for what I believe to be right. It’s an opportunity not to be missed,’ says abuse survivor

Abuse survivor Marie Collins, who has been appointed to the Vatican's new Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors, is daunted at the opportunity offered by Pope Francis but also recognises the opportunity offered to her.

Ms Collins was invited to become a member in a phone call from Rome last Friday afternoon. She was “gobsmacked”, she said.

Ms Collins feels it is “a huge responsibility where all abuse survivors are concerned and I don’t want to let them down. But then I just want to get in there and speak up for what I believe to be right. It’s an opportunity not to be missed,” she said last night. She met the new council’s chairman, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, twice when he led an apostolic visitation to Dublin three years ago, following publication of the Murphy report. “I told him exactly what was wrong and what I felt should be done” on the abuse issue, she said.

She attended a Vatican symposium on the matter in Rome two years ago with two other members of the new council, Jesuit Fr Hans Zollner, head of psychology at Rome’s Gregorian University, and psychiatrist Baroness Sheila Hollins from the Archdiocese of Westminster. Ms Collins accompanied then Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor when he led the apostolic visitation to Armagh archdiocese in 2011.


Welcoming Marie Collins’s appointment to the new council, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said it would “benefit greatly from her commitment to ensuring that the highest standards of child protection will exist in the Catholic Church.” He said “her contribution to the work of child protection in the Archdiocese of Dublin has been crucial and her advice and critical comment have been of invaluable help and inspiration to me personally.”

The We are Church Ireland group welcomed both the new Council and Marie Collins’s appointment to it. Survivors “can rest assured that her contribution...will ensure that justice for them will be achieved,” it said.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times