Critics of the Vatican’s record on sex abuse have claimed that the Catholic Church’s committee on the sex abuse crisis would be little more than a PR stunt, but Pope Francis has appointed a commendably balanced panel. The Boston Globe lists some of the members of the group:
The lineup for the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors … includes Irish laywoman Marie Collins, who has said she was raped at the age of 13 by a hospital chaplain. When she tried to report the abuse years later, she said, she was told by church officials that “protecting the good name” of the priest was more important than remedying a “historical” wrong.Collins has acquired an international reputation as a campaigner for the rights of abuse victims.The pope tapped three clergy and five laity, including four women. The panel’s members come from eight countries, with seven from Europe or the United States.
Pope Francis is taking his own advice by giving women and the laity a more prominent role in church business. Marie Collins’ appointment is particularly significant, as she will hardly be a shill for the committee. In the past she has bluntly criticized the church’s handling of the sex abuse scandals and is beloved by victims groups. In a recent interview, Collins stated she will make it her top priority to punish bishops who helped cover the scandals up.Instead of revising the church’s teachings on sexuality (as so many gentry liberals want him to do), Pope Francis is slowly opening the Vatican to outsiders and to the laity, giving them a platform to criticize the curia from within. For those who wondered whether Francis would be all show or a serious agent of change, day by day he is proving himself to be the latter.