"We can only be grateful that she has been with the commission for almost three years now. I think the commission will certainly cherish all that she has done for us and with us," he said, but noted that "what she describes as resistance within the Curia" was perhaps "too testing" for her.
The message that everyone needs to be on the same page regarding abuse prevention and best practices is something that "has not happened instantaneously, and, honestly, I do not expect it to happen, especially if you look around at the global reality represented in the Catholic Church."
"(So) I can understand that she is frustrated about that," he said, and pointed to different perspectives on the issue taken by various cultures throughout the world.
"Canonically we're on the same page, but we are not on the same page in regards to attitudes" regarding "with how much energy, with how much determination we deal with cases of abuse that have happened, and with prevention," he said.
"If you look into the Church worldwide there are differences that are culturally bound, and, in the wider sense, also politically bound. So this is what is difficult to bear for a survivor."
Zollner acknowledged that part of this difference in approach is also found within Curia, as mentioned by Collins in her letter of resignation.
"There are, as you can expect in any organization and in any institution, there are pushbacks, there are setbacks," he said, but clarified that "this is not the Curia" as a whole.
He said they have had invitations to speak at different dicasteries and "we have already received new invitations." Collins herself "says in her statement that she will continue to work with us, so if she thought it was the whole Curia then she would not work in this effort to educate those in the Curia," the priest added.
He said part of the "pushback" Collins referred to was likely coming from specific offices or "the persons in the offices." He stressed that he has "no idea" as to the specific cases she is referring to, but it could be along these lines.
Regardless of Collins' resignation, Zollner said that "we need to continue working steadily as we have done."
"The voice of survivors at the moment is not represented by persons, but certainly by all of the members' experiences," he said, noting that all of the members, including O'Malley, have met with survivors on several occasions, "so it's not that the voice of survivors is not present anymore."
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When asked if the commission was planning to look for more survivor members to join, Zollner said he doubts there will be any changes to the commission's current composition before the end of their term at the close of 2017, but the topic will likely come up during their plenary meeting next month.
Even before Collins decided to resign, the commission had planned to discuss "the future form and composition of this commission" during the plenary, he said, adding that they will likely have a proposal by March 24, when the plenary begins.
He referred to the testimonies given Thursday by commission members Kathleen McCormack and Sheila Hollins before Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse saying the Pontifical commission is underfunded, having the resources of a diocese rather than an organization that operates throughout the globe.
While funding has "always" been a topic of discussion, Zollner said this will likely also be on the table for discussion during their upcoming plenary.
Elise Harris was senior Rome correspondent for CNA from 2012 to 2018.