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
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.