Monday, January 09, 2017

Zero tolerance simply about ministry, advocate argues

‘Zero tolerance’ is key to child protection in the Irish Church and should not be confused with how priests are handled when out of ministry, the sole Irish member of Pope Francis’ child protection commission has said.

Commenting on the Pope’s call to bishops on the Feast of the Holy Innocents for the Church to renew its commitment to tackling clerical abuse and to “adhere, clearly and faithfully, to ‘zero tolerance’”, Marie Collins said: “Zero tolerance is the policy whereby anybody who has abused or who has been found to have abused is not returned to ministry.” 

In advance of October’s RTÉ documentary Beyond Redemption?, producer Mick Peelo told The Irish Catholic that the Church’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach is harmful, and that it runs a risk of demonising priests found guilty of abuse, but Mrs Collins suggested that there is some confusion around this issue. 

Different area

The documentary, she said, “went on to talk about how priests out of ministry are treated, etc. and that’s an entirely different area. That’s not what zero tolerance refers to.”

Zero tolerance simply means, she said, “if there is any abuse, it’s the end as far as ministry is concerned, and anybody who has abused their trust and their position by abusing a child or a minor in any way, that they cannot be returned to ministry”.

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