By staff reporter
CLERICAL abuse survivor Marie Collins has promised to use her new position – as a member of the Vatican commission on child protection – to push for bishops to be sanctioned if they don’t implement church rules.
On Saturday Pope Francis named Marie Collins, a Dublin mother of one who as a child was sexually abused by a priest, to be part of a core group to help the Church fight the clerical sexual abuse of minors.
Ms Collins said she would always speak out as she had always done and not be “overawed” by some of the high-profile members of the eight-person group, whose first meeting she will attend next month.
Its eight members – four women and four men – are from eight different countries and include Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, former Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka and British psychiatrist Baroness Sheila Hollins.
“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.
The new group comes a month after the United Nations accused the Church of putting its reputation before the well-being of children and imposing a “code of silence” among clerics on the sexual abuse issue.
Lombardi said the group would look at options such as criminal action against offenders, education about child exploitation, best practices to better screen priests and a clearer definition of civil and clerical duties within the Church.
Ms Collins, who is a founding trustee of Irish abuse victims support group One in Four and a founding member of depresson support group Aware, was abused by a chaplain while ill in hospital at the age of 13 in the 60s, and since that time has campaigned for the protection of children and for justice for clerical abuse victims.
In 1997, her abuser Fr Paul McGennis was convicted and received an 18-month sentence, which was halved upon appeal.
Speaking of her appointment, Ms Collins said: “There’s no point in bringing in policies for child safeguarding if there is no accountability. Bishops have no sanctions and that would certainly be something I’d bring in as an absolute necessity.”