Prominent child abuse survivor Marie Collins has quit a Vatican panel set up by Pope Francis to tackle the problem of paedophile priests, citing her frustration at a lack of cooperation from the church's most senior clerics.
In her resignation letter to Pope Francis, Collins cited her “frustration at a lack of cooperation with the commission by other offices in the Roman Curia (the Vatican government)” as a reason for stepping down, said a statement from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Her resignation is a devastating indictment of the Catholic Church's under-resourced handling of sexual abuse under Francis, and its intense cultural resistance to efforts to tackle the problem.
Collins said one of the reasons she decided to step down was the Vatican's failure to set up a tribunal recommended by the commission to hold negligent bishops to account when they ignored reports of abuse.
The last straw for Collins was learning that a Vatican department was failing to comply with a new recommendation that all correspondence from victims and survivors receive a reply, she said in a statement to the National Catholic Reporter newspaper.
“I find it impossible to listen to public statements about the deep concern in the church for the care of those whose lives have been blighted by abuse, yet to watch privately as a congregation in the Vatican refuses to even acknowledge their letters.”
She added: “It is a reflection of how this whole abuse crisis in the church has been handled: with fine words in public and contrary actions behind closed doors.”
"It is devastating in 2017 to see that these men can still put other concerns before the safety of children and vulnerable adults," she said.
The commission stated that Pope Francis accepted Collins' resignation “with deep appreciation for her work” on behalf of other survivors of what he has often called the “scourge” of clerical sex abuse.
Collins agreed to continue working with the commission “in an educational role,” given her “exceptional teaching skills” and the impact of her testimony as an abuse survivor, according to the statement.
Commission head Sean O'Malley, a Boston cardinal, said he was thankful for Collins "extraordinary work" as a founding member of the commission and would pray for her and all abuse victims and survivors.
An Irish laywoman molested by a priest when she was 13, Collins was one of two clerical-sex abuse survivors appointed to the nine-member panel, alongside Briton Peter Saunders, who the panel asked to take “a leave of absence” in February 2016.