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Conscience Magazine

Former Member of Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors Describes Vatican’s Zero Tolerance Policy on Abuse as “Toothless”

November 16, 2017

Marie Collins, an abuse survivor who helped found the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and who until March of this year served on the commission, has called out the Vatican for its “toothless” response to allegations of abuse within the church. In favor of Pope Francis’s zero tolerance policy, Collins points out that very little is actually being done to enforce the policy. “All the policies in the world are worthless unless there is some consequence for ignoring them,” she states. In a speech to the commission on September 21, Pope Francis stressed the importance of a strict policy for abusers within the church hierarchy. He lamented that “the conscience of the church arrived a little late … when conscience arrives late, the instruments to solve the problem arrive late.” He also clarified that he has never signed a pardon for a condemnation of sexual abuse against minors. While the commission recommended and Francis approved a Vatican tribunal to adjudicate cases of bishops who fail to protect abuse survivors, such a tribunal has not been created.