Leading child protection campaigner Marie Collins has challenged claims by the head of the Vatican department responsible for dealing with allegations of clerical abuse.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), had rejected claims by Mrs Collins that members of the CDF had obstructed proposals for reform recommended by the Vatican’s child protection commission, from which Mrs Collins resigned last month.
Interviewed by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra, Cardinal Müller rejected suggestions that the congregation has resisted the work of the commission, saying: “One of our collaborators is part of it. I can affirm that in these last years there’s been permanent contact.”
Mrs Collins, however, told The Irish Catholic it has been almost two years since any member of the CDF has been involved with the commission. “There’s no member of the CDF on the commission,” she said, continuing, “There hasn’t been for nearly two years. There was a member who stopped attending immediately after the accountability tribunal was announced, and then officially resigned last year.”
The Irish Catholic understands that Claudio Papale, a professor who teaches canon law at the Pontifical University Urbaniana, stepped down from the commission last May for personal reasons.
Mrs Collins also challenged how the cardinal said the commission had asked the CDF to write letters to victims assuring them of the Church’s closeness to their suffering, saying the commission had merely wanted the congregation to acknowledge letters received.
“Letters from victims and survivors were not being acknowledged,” she said, “and the Commission requested that the Congregation change that and start acknowledging letters and that was what was refused. There was no request to send out pastoral letters.”
It was the congregation’s refusal to send out such simple acknowledgments as would be expected “in normal society” that was the “last straw” leading to her resignation, she said.
She also noted that the cardinal had confirmed that although Pope Francis had approved the commission’s recommendation that the Church establish an accountability tribunal for bishops and had sent the proposal to the congregation to be implemented. “I think Cardinal Müller, in what he has said, has confirmed that they didn’t implement it,” she said.
Mrs Collins said she would be writing to the cardinal.