Washington D.C., Aug 6, 2018 / 13:00 pm
A former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has said that proposals made by Cardinal Donald Wuerl in the wake of the Theodore McCarrick scandal do not go far enough.
Marie Collins, who is herself a survivor of clerical abuse, also said that the actions taken by Church leaders thus far in response to the McCarrick allegations, are not sufficient to resolve the problem.
On August 3, Cardinal Wuerl released a “pastoral reflection” on the McCarrick crisis. In it, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., noted it was “particularly disheartening” that the Church had already been through the pain and trauma of addressing sexual abuse and episcopal failures in 2002, but quoted St. John Paul II, saying “We must be confident that this time of trial will bring a purification of the entire Catholic community.” He also pointed out that earlier work by U.S. bishops, including the Dallas Charter, could be revisited and built upon.
In response, Marie Collins told CNA that Cardinal Wuerl “speaks as if the issue had already been addressed when we know this is not the case.”
Cardinal Wuerl’s reflection also praised Pope Francis for his “strong and decisive” response to the McCarrick allegations, calling it an example to follow.
On July 28, the pope accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the college of cardinals and directed him to live in “seclusion, prayer, and penance” pending the outcome of a canonical process. This followed the similar acceptance by the pope of the resignations of five Chilean bishops in the wake of the abuse scandal still unfolding in that country.
Collins, who resigned from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in March 2017, said that episcopal resignations were no substitute for a proper determination of guilt and formal punishment following a canonical trail. She said that allowing bishops to effectively remove themselves following public scandal was not a credible means of resolving the crisis.
“Asking for resignations is not the same thing as having a proper, transparent, penal process,” she said, “no proper structure has been put in place to hold bishops or religious leaders to account.”