A former papal adviser on protecting minors criticized the Catholic Church’s response to sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick as unsatisfactory and weak.
Marie Collins, former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, denounced the actions of church leaders and the recent statement from Cardinal Donald Wuerl as not having gone far enough and thereby deflecting the issue. Collins argued that Wuerl acted as though the issue of child sexual abuse in the church had been thoroughly addressed when, in her view, it has not.
She also argued that simply allowing Bishops accused or convicted of sexual abuse to resign without a canonical penal process does not solve the problem of clergy sexual abuse. (RELATED: Pope Francis Accepts Resignation Of McCarrick Amid Sexual Abuse Scandal)
“Asking for resignations is not the same thing as having a proper, transparent, penal process,” Collins said, according to Crux Now. “No proper structure has been put in place to hold bishops or religious leaders to account.”
Collins also criticized Wuerl’s assertion that the “Statement of Episcopal Commitment,” a 2002 document that binds bishops to report any allegations against themselves or other bishops to the Apostolic Nuncio, could “serve as the nucleus of a more effective mechanism.”
“It is disturbing that Cardinal Wuerl speaks of revising the very unsatisfactory Statement of Episcopal Committeemen that accompanied the Dallas Charter when what is needed is that the Charter itself should be revised to cover all clerics and religious,” Collins said.
Collins argued that a thorough response to the allegations against McCarrick would not only involve a canonical trial, but would also mean ending the restriction on information offered to victims involved in the trial. She also said that, as a preventative measure, each diocese should undergo annual audits.
“Each diocese should open itself to an annual audit by an independent body, with diocesan bishops making all their files available. This is done in Ireland by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church and their audits are published,” Collins said.
As for safeguarding measures to prevent further abuses and to ensure proper reporting, Collins said that while Wuerl suggested that the USCCB form a committee with authority to investigate allegations, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors had in fact already drawn up guidelines that simply haven’t been implemented.
“The Safeguarding Guidelines template which the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors drew up, and which was approved by the pope, is on the Commission website,” she said, adding that the guidelines apply to all “clerics and religious.”
“The original intention was to disseminate the guidelines to all bishops’ conferences globally as best practice and to hold all local policies to this standard, instead, they are now simply a resource on the website to take or leave,”she added.
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