Catholic World News

Lay member of papal abuse commission defends vote to remove outspoken member

February 10, 2016

A lay member of the papal commission on sexual abuse has defended the group's decision to ask Peter Saunders to take a leave of absence.

Marie Collins, an Irish abuse victim who has admitted that she wondered whether the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors would be "just a PR exercise," tells the National Catholic Reoporter that she abstained from the vote calling for Saunders' removal, but all other members supported the measure. "It was not a vote of no confidence," she says, but a suggestion that Saunders should reflect on how he could contribute to the group's work. 

"If a member cannot commit to work on policy development-- which undoubtedly is laborious, tedious and slow-- while other members are deeply committed to it, an impasse is reached," Collins writes. "Any expectation that the Commission can attack or demand things of the Pope or insert themselves in particular cases ignores the actual mandate the group works under."

Saunders was asked to take a leave of absence from the commission after making critical public statements about bishops who have been accused of mishandling abuse complaints, and after saying that it was "outrageous" that Pope Francis has not attended the commission's meetings.

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  • Posted by: RoseMore - Feb. 10, 2016 8:21 PM ET USA

    I thank Ms. Collins for this clarification. It makes much sense.