Vatican City, Mar 27, 2017 / 10:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After a victim who suffered past clerical abuse resigned from the Vatican's anti-abuse commission, the group is aiming for more effective ways to communicate with survivors and include them in its work.
According to a March 26 press release from the commission, members “unanimously agreed to find new ways to ensure its work is shaped and informed with and by victims/survivors.” The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) met March 24-26 at the Vatican for their eighth Plenary Assembly since being formed by Pope Francis in Dec. 2013. The session came less than one month after clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins resigned from her position on the commission, citing pushback from certain Vatican dicasteries, specifically from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as one of the main reasons for stepping down.
In a March 1 communique announcing her decision, the commission praised Collins as someone who has “consistently and tirelessly championed for the voices of the victims/survivors to be heard, and for the healing of the victims/survivors to be a priority for the Church.” In their latest meetings, commission members again voiced “strong support” for Collins and for “her continuing work to promote healing for victims of abuse and the prevention of all abuse of minors and vulnerable adults,” the press release stated.
Members also expressed gratitude that Collins has agreed to continue working with the commission in their educational programs for new bishops and with other offices of the Roman Curia. With relation on how to best include survivors as they go forward, the commission’s statement said that they are carefully considering several ideas that have been successfully implemented in other places for recommendation to Pope Francis.
In addition, the commission discussed the response to communications from survivors/victims directly to their office and other offices of the Holy See, agreeing that “acknowledging correspondence and giving a timely and personal response is one part of furthering transparency and healing.”
They talked over the importance of responding “directly and compassionately,” while acknowledging that this is a major undertaking due to the volume of this type of correspondence the Holy See receives. Each letter also requires a large amount of attention in order to give the specific resources and assistance necessary. However, the commission agreed to send further recommendations on this matter to Pope Francis for consideration.
The latest plenary session of the PCPM immediately followed an educational seminar held March 23 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. The event was co-hosted by the PCPM and the Gregorian University’s Center for Child Protection. The day-long educational seminar focused on what the local church and institutions are doing to combat abuse of minors specifically in schools and the home, and was attended by at least half a dozen heads of Vatican departments, with every Vatican department represented in some way.