Don’t try to rewrite abuse history – Marie Collins

Abuse survivor Marie Collins has welcomed Pope Francis’ call for bishops to continue helping victims of clerical abuse. She also expressed disappointment with recent criticism of the Murphy Report from the Association of Catholic Priests and warned that some priests who feel hurt may be tempted to try and rewrite history when it comes to abuse.

Following Francis’ first public discussion on the issue during his meeting with Dutch bishops this week – in which he stated: “I promise compassion and prayer for every victim of sexual abuse and their families. I ask you to continue supporting them on their painful path to healing, undertaken with courage” – Mrs Collins told The Irish Catholic that his message was “encouraging”.

Reach out

“It is very good to hear Pope Francis speak on the issue,” Ms Collins said. “I hope he will be heard in Ireland as there is still a need to reach out [and] there is still a great need to listen to survivors.”

Praising the Irish Church’s initiative for survivors, Towards Healing, which has worked with survivors of abuse towards formulating efficient counselling services, Ms Collins nevertheless stressed that “different survivors need different things, and not all want counselling. All of them do, however, seek a resolution of the past.”

In this, Mrs Collins offered praise also for Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who in his November 24 homily marking the tenth anniversary of Safeguarding Children spoke of the need to do more in reaching out to survivors, “beyond the great work of Towards Healing, to create an open door and a safe space for those survivors who have still fear telling their story and who still live alone with their anguish”.

Mrs Collins added that she had been “very disappointed” with the recent Association of Catholic Priests’ study on the Murphy Report which had questioned elements of the report and its compilation.

“I understand priests are upset, but we must accept the past no matter how bitter a pill that is to swallow,” she said, adding, “I hope people who feel aggrieved will listen to the Pope rather than trying to rewrite the past.”