History will judge Francis on his actions, not his intentions

History will judge whether Pope Francis’s response to clerical abuse was appropriate, says Marie Collins.

Collins, who is a clerical abuse survivor and former member of Francis’ papal commission on clergy sexual abuse, says while she believes Francis has good intentions in fighting abuse she is looking for actions as well.

Rather than telling us how terrible abuse is and how all must be held accountable, Francis should say what he is doing to hold abusers accountable.

“That is what we want to hear. ‘Working on it’ is not an acceptable explanation for decades of ‘delay’,” she says.

Although Collins is delighted Francis’s recent letter admits to Catholics around the world that the church covered up clergy sexual abuse for decades, she says the letter is missing “the most important thing:” a plan to hold the perpetrators of the cover-up to account.

“You can keep saying how terrible this is,” she says. “And everybody knows that now. What we want to know is what are you going to do about it. And that’s what we still haven’t got.”

Collins says it’s important to her that Francis has been speaking about abuse cover-up as a fact.

“I hope at this point that the deniers and those in the laity who still are trying to deny that there has been systemic cover-up will now cease and desist with that, because for 20 years those of us who have been speaking about this have been called liars.

“We don’t need the pope to confirm that there’s been a systemic cover-up by church leaders but hopefully those who are still talking about this as some sort of media campaign or ‘enemies of the church’ or ‘angry survivors’ will now accept that this is a reality and it has to be dealt with.”

In a tweet she sent on Monday, Collins had sharp words for those who would like to minimise or fudge the abuse problem.

“I wish those who are intent on defending the indefensible would please stop claiming clerical abuse stopped in 2002 and that it’s all about gay priests anyway. It may please those in the Church who are resisting reform but serves little other purpose,” she tweeted.

In another tweet, referring to Francis’s letter to all Catholics, she said: “The condemnation of clericalism in the letter is good to see as it plays a big part in the ignoring of the laity, survivors and experts.

“It gives rise to the ease with which church leaders can feel comfortable protecting fellow clerics despite their crimes against children,” she added.



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