Abuse survivor asked to step aside from Pope’s commission

A clergy abuse survivor was asked to step aside from the Pope’s commission to protect minors after a clash over the group’s work and mission.

According to an Associated Press report, Peter Saunders said the members of the 17-person Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors asked him to step aside, with one abstention.

This was after the commission reportedly concluded it could no longer trust him to work within the scope of the commission’s mandate.

Mr Saunders wanted the commission to intervene immediately in individual cases, rather than just craft long-term policies to fight abuse.

He has also been highly critical of the Vatican’s slow progress in taking measures to protect children and punish bishops who covered up for abusers.

On Saturday, Mr Saunders told reporters he was “blindsided” by the Vatican’s announcement of his “leave of absence” and said only the Pope could make him leave the commission.

The Vatican had stated that Mr Saunders would take time “to consider how he might best support the commission’s work”.

Commission head Cardinal Sean O’Malley said in another statement that the group had asked Mr Saunders to advise them on possibly creating a victim/survivor panel to help with their work.

Mr Saunders said the Vatican’s inaction in the face of continuing cases of children being raped and molested “made me lose faith in the process and lose faith in Pope Francis”.

Last week, Mr Saunders told The Times in London that that he had asked the Pope to appear at a three-day meeting of the commission in Rome to defend his record.

He told the paper: “It will be outrageous if he doesn’t attend and I will say so.”

Mr Saunders had been especially critical of the Pope’s appointment of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros to the Diocese of Osorno.

Bishop Barros was accused of covering up an abusive priest, his mentor Fr Fernando Karadima, and even witnessing abuse.

Bishop Barros denies the allegations.

One of Karadima’s victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, joined Mr Saunders on Saturday in Rome in hopes of speaking to the commission, but was refused.

Mr Cruz also hoped to deliver letters to the commission or to Francis from the clergy and people of Osorno.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , , ,