Former child abuse victim to sit on Vatican commission

Survivor Marie Collins

A former victim of sexual abuse by priests will sit on a new Vatican commission created to root out paedophilia in the Church, the Vatican said on Saturday, reports AFP/Yahoo7.

In a statement, Pope Francis has revealed the first eight names of officials who will sit on the commission, which was first announced on December 5 last year.

Among them is Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor who has been an outspoken campaigner for the rights of victims. Other experts include the Archbishop of Boston, Sean Patrick O'Malley, who has been a vocal spokesman for US victims, as well as psychiatrists Catherine Bonnet, from France, and Sheila Hollins, from Britain.

Politician Hanna Suchocka, the former Polish prime minister who has been an ambassador to the Holy See for more 10 than years, will also sit on the committee.

Italian lawyer Claudio Papale, an expert in canon law and 'offences against morality,' the Argentinean Jesuit theologian Miguel Yanez, long-time friend of Pope Francis, and Fr Hans Zollner, a German Jesuit psychologist and psychotherapist, will offer a theological perspective.

'The main objective of these (eight) people will be to prepare the statutes of the Commission and to define its powers and duties,' said the statement. More members from other parts of the world will be appointed to the commission later, the Vatican said.

For more than a decade, the Church has been rocked by a cascade of paedophilia scandals, with victims describing the trauma of abuse at the hands of people charged with their care.

A UN committee in February denounced the Church for its 'secretive handling' of child abuse accusations and for failing to stamp out predatory priests, and urged it to hand over known and suspected abusers for prosecution.

From the Truth Justic and Healing Council (www.tjhcouncil.org.au): 

CEO of the Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, has welcomed the announcement of members of the Vatican’s Child Abuse Commission, which includes a female survivor of child sexual abuse within the Church and three other lay women.

'This is a major step forward in the Vatican’s fight to stamp out sexual abuse within the Catholic Church,' Mr Sullivan said.

'The appointment of four lay women out of the eight members announced so far should bring a fresh approach to a high-powered Commission such as this which is usually dominated by male Clergy.'

Mr Sullivan said he met with one of the members of the Commission, Sheila Hollins, in Canberra last year.

'If Ms Hollins is any indication of the quality and dedication of the other members, then this new Commission has the potential to have a major influence over the way in which the Vatican approaches child sex abuse issues in the future.'

The eight members announced on Saturday include Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor and outspoken campaigner for the rights of victims. Others include:

  • The Archbishop of Boston, Sean Patrick O'Malley, a vocal spokesman for US victims
  • Psychiatrist Catherine Bonnet, from France
  • Sheila Hollins, mental health specialist and Chair of the Board of Science of the British Medical Association
  • Politician Hanna Suchocka, the former Polish Prime Minister and Attorney General and an Ambassador to the Holy See for more 10 than years
  • Italian lawyer Claudio Papale, a canon law expert
  • the Argentine Jesuit theologian Fr Humberto Miguel Yanez
  • Fr Hans Zollner, a German Jesuit psychologist and psychotherapist

A statement released by the Vatican said the main objective of these people will be to prepare the statutes of the Commission and to define its powers and duties. More members of the Commission from other parts of the world will be appointed later, according to the statement.

The new commission was first announced in December last year on the advice of a group of eight cardinals from around the world, including Cardinal Pell. It will advise the Pope on reforms to the Church's central bureaucracy, the Curia.

FULL COVERAGE

Vatican names former victim on child abuse commission (Yahoo7)

Pope Francis names first eight members of sex abuse commission (news.com.au)

Clerical sex abuse survivor aims to make her voice heard (Vatican Insider)

O'Malley, abuse survivor named members of new Vatican clergy abuse commission (NCR Online)

Pope names abuse survivor to child protection commission (The Tablet)

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