Woman Molested By Priest Appointed To Pope’s Anti-Abuse Commission
Pope Francis named a woman who was abused by a priest when she was a child to the "Commission for the Protection of Minors" on Saturday.
The group will be responsible for helping the Catholic Church rid itself of the sexual abuse that has plagued it for more than two decades.
The first eight members named are from different countries. It has four women and four men, including Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who has been at the forefront of the Vatican response to child abuse in the U.S.
Francis appointed Marie Collins, who was sexually abused by a priest in Ireland in the 1960s and later became an activist for other victims of clerical pedophilia.
When she learned of her appointment on Friday, Collins told the New York Times she felt “an enormous weight because there’s a lot of expectations for this commission, particularly from survivors.”
She says the group will focus on requiring dioceses to report abuse cases to civil authorities and holding bishops who cover up the incidents accountable.
“Until bishops who protected abusers are removed, it’s very hard to have confidence,” she said.
“This is perhaps the first development of any real significance in this papacy when it comes to this issue,” said Colm O’Gorman, the founder and former director of the advocacy group One in Four in Ireland.
“What matters most now is what is the purpose of the commission, what are its terms of reference and what are its powers?” O’Gorman told The Times. “Because too often we’ve seen commissions, in the U.S., in Ireland and in other parts of the world like Australia, that ultimately run into sand” and nothing changes.
The Pope has referred to child sex abuse as “the shame of the Church.”
"Pope Francis has made clear that the Church must hold the protection of minors amongst her highest priorities," Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement.