Cardinal: Alleged Vatican resistance to child protection a 'cliche'

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican’s doctrinal chief dismissed
accusations that some Vatican officials are resisting recommendations on best
practices for protecting children and vulnerable adults from clergy sex abuse.

“I think this cliche must be put to an end: the idea
that the pope, who wants the reform, is on one side and, on the other, a group of
resisters who want to block it,” said Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The congregation is charged with carrying out canonical
trials and seeking justice for victims of clerical abuse, while local bishops
and heads of religious orders must care for their pastoral needs, he said in an
interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, published March 5.

Cardinal Muller responded to complaints made by Marie
Collins, who resigned her post on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection
of Minors March 1, citing what she described as resistance coming from Vatican
offices against implementing recommendations.

In an editorial published online March 1 by National
Catholic Reporter, Collins said an unnamed dicastery not only refused to cooperate
on the commission’s safeguarding guidelines, but also refused to respond to
letters from victims.

Collins said the refusal “to implement one of the
simplest recommendations the commission has put forward to date” was the
last straw that led to her resignation.

While acknowledging that personal care of victims is
important, Cardinal Muller said Collins’ accusations “are based on a
misunderstanding” and that bishops and religious superiors “who are
closer” to victims of clergy sex abuse are charged with their pastoral

“When a letter arrives, we always ask the bishop that
he take pastoral care of the victim, clarifying that the congregation will do
everything possible to do justice. It is a misunderstanding that this
dicastery, in Rome,” can
be aware of everything happening in all the dioceses and religious orders in
the world, the cardinal said.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he added,
“acts as the supreme apostolic tribunal” on matters dealing with
clerical abuse.

“All of our collaborators humanly suffer with the
victims of abuse. Our task is to do everything possible to do justice and avoid
further crimes,” he said.

Through the work of the Pontifical Commission for the
Protection of Minors, the cardinal said, Pope Francis “wished to offer an
exemplary service” as a help for the church and the world in dealing with
the scourge of child sex abuse.

“Pedophilia is monstrous crime as well as a
grave sin. We must remember Jesus’ words to the children and his condemnation
against those who harm them,” Cardinal Muller said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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