The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was set up by Pope Francis in March 2014. Since its inception it has been repeatedly dogged by internal disputes and resignations.
Collins, who was the only remaining Commission member to have suffered sexual abuse by a priest, said Vatican officials were hampering the work of the panel resulting in “constant setbacks.”
She rose to prominence in Ireland as a campaigner against clerical abuse almost 20 years ago when she challenged the late Cardinal Desmond Connell’s failure to report her abuse at the hands of priest to police.
Although Collins’ resignation statement praised the pontiff for his “genuine wish” to address clerical sex abuse and his “sincere move” in setting up the commission, the move is a blow to Francis’ efforts to demonstrate that the Catholic Church is serious about combating child sexual abuse
Collins’ resignation comes about after a year after the resignation of British man Peter Saunders, who was the only other member of the commission who was a victim of clerical sexual abuse. Saunders was also very critical of the commission’s work.
Saunders and Collins both threatened to resign in February 2015 as they were unhappy that bishops weren’t being held accountable for failing to prevent, and even covering up, sexual abuse.
Collins said her decision to resign followed an accumulation of frustrations at the hands of officials, known as Curia. “Despite the Holy Father approving all the recommendations made to him by the Commission, there have been constant setbacks. This has been directly due to the resistance by some members of the Vatican Curia to the work of the Commission. The lack of cooperation, particularly by the dicastery most closely involved in dealing with cases of abuse, has been shameful,” her statement read.
The commission recommended all Vatican departments acknowledge letters from survivors and victims of abuse, a measure which was approved by the Pontiff but later blocked by the department responsible for such responses.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who heads the commission, thanked Collins for her work, saying: “We will certainly listen carefully to all that Marie wishes to share with us about her concerns and we will greatly miss her important contributions as a member of the Commission.”
The Vatican said the Pope had accepted her resignation “with deep appreciation for her work on behalf of the victims/survivors of clergy abuse.”