Pope must address clerical abuse during Ireland visit, survivor says

Pope ‘needs to commit to doing something to stop this cancer,’ says Marie Collins

Marie Collins was abused by Fr Paul McGennis, then a chaplain at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin, where she had been a patient as a child in 1960. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times.

Marie Collins was abused by Fr Paul McGennis, then a chaplain at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin, where she had been a patient as a child in 1960. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times.

 

On his visit to Ireland Pope Francis must “say what he is going to do about abuse in the Church,” abuse survivor Marie Collins has said.

A former member of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors, she added that the Pope “needs to commit to doing something to stop this cancer in the church.”

She resigned from the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors in March 2017 after “three difficult years” due to “the attitude of a small number in the Vatican’s curia” who had been “resistant to the work of the commission.”

Ms Collins was abused by Fr Paul McGennis, then a chaplain at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin, where she had been a patient as a child in 1960.

Speaking on RTE Radio 1’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan programme on Thursday morning, she said she believed Pope Francis should meet representaives of abuse survivors who had been in industrial schools, Magdalene laundries, mother and baby homes in Ireland at the end of this month “in recognition of those horrors.”

She also said Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, when speaking on Wednesday, indicated there was Vatican resistance to this.

Rome’s view that it would go away “if we don’t talk about the issue or that there is no attention given to it,” was, she said, “delusional.”

The Vatican “thinks like King Canute. Ignore it and it will go away,” she said. But they were “not going to make it go away.”

Pope Francis “must tell us what he’s going to do this issue,” she said.

The Church in Ireland “has been devastated by abuse” and if the church decides to airbrush that, it was “ a sign of its irrelevance.”

She recalled how the Commission for the Protection of Minors was frustrated in its work by the Vatican’s Congrebation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In June 2015 the Commission announced an accountability tribunal to deal with negligent bishops, cardinals, and church leaders who had not protected children.

“It was appro ved by Pope Francis but blocked by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” she said.

Then in June 2016 Pope Francis followed that up with the apostolic letter A Loving Mother which addressed the same issue but it did not seem to have any effect either.

There were, she said, “no proper penal repercussions” for cardinals or bishops who failed in protecting children. She gave as an example that of former Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson in Australia whose resignation was accepted by Pope Francis this week.

Last month Archbishop Wilson was sentenced to 12 months in prison for not disclosing child abuse by a priest to police.

Where the Vatican was concerned “he was not removed” but was “persuaded to resign,” she said.

She also expressed concern that a session of child safeguarding at the World Meeting of Families in the RDS on Friday August 24 th would focus on child protection in the home rather than in the church. As for herself, if asked, she “would meet the Pope” when he visits Ireland.

“I would speak quite frankly to him about what is needed,” she said.