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Prominent child abuse survivor Marie Collins resigns from Vatican child protection body set up by Pope Francis

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Pedophile (representational image), Pixabay

Rome, March 1, 2017: Prominent child abuse survivor Marie Collins has quit a Vatican panel set up by Pope Francis to tackle the problem of paedophile priests, citing her frustration at a lack of cooperation from the church’s most senior clerics.

In her resignation letter to Pope Francis, Collins cited her “frustration at a lack of cooperation with the commission by other offices in the Roman Curia (the Vatican government)” as a reason for stepping down, said a statement from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Her resignation is a devastating indictment of the Catholic Church’s under-resourced handling of sexual abuse under Francis, and its intense cultural resistance to efforts to tackle the problem.

Collins said one of the reasons she decided to step down was the Vatican’s failure to set up a tribunal recommended by the commission to hold negligent bishops to account when they ignored reports of abuse.

The last straw for Collins was learning that a Vatican department was failing to comply with a new recommendation that all correspondence from victims and survivors receive a reply, she said in a statement to the National Catholic Reporter newspaper.

“I find it impossible to listen to public statements about the deep concern in the church for the care of those whose lives have been blighted by abuse, yet to watch privately as a congregation in the Vatican refuses to even acknowledge their letters.

“It is a reflection of how this whole abuse crisis in the church has been handled: with fine words in public and contrary actions behind closed doors.

“It is devastating in 2017 to see that these men can still put other concerns before the safety of children and vulnerable adults,” she said.

The commission stated that Pope Francis accepted Collins’ resignation “with deep appreciation for her work” on behalf of other survivors of what he has often called the “scourge” of clerical sex abuse.

Collins agreed to continue working with the commission “in an educational role”, given her “exceptional teaching skills” and the impact of her testimony as an abuse survivor, according to the statement.

Commission head Sean O’Malley, a Boston cardinal, said he was thankful for Collins “extraordinary work” as a founding member of the commission and would pray for her and all abuse victims and survivors.

An Irish laywoman molested by a priest when she was 13, Collins was one of two clerical-sex abuse survivors appointed to the nine-member panel, alongside Briton Peter Saunders, who the panel asked to take “a leave of absence” in February 2016. (IANS)

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“Visit Strengthens Further Internal Cohesion and Unity”: Pope Francis Meets Leaders of North Macedonia

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to "sow these seeds" of solidarity.

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Pope Francis
Pope Francis greets the crowds in Skopje on May 7. RFERL

Pope Francis, who is on a historic first trip to North Macedonia, has met with the country’s leadership and held Mass in the main square of the capital, Skopje.

Francis was welcomed by the outgoing president, Gjorge Ivanov, and other government officials.

He has sought to encourage the country’s drive toward integration into the EU and NATO after its name change resolved a decades-long dispute with Greece last year.

Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian.

But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. North Macedonia is home to an estimated 15,000 Catholics.

In meetings with Ivanov and with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the presidential palace, Francis praised North Macedonia’s multiethnic and multifaith culture, calling it an example of peaceful coexistence and a bridge between East and West.

“These particular features are also highly significant for increased integration with the nations of Europe,” he said.

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Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian. VOA

“It is my hope that this integration will develop in a way that is beneficial for the entire region of the Western Balkans, with unfailing respect for diversity and for fundamental rights.”

In his speech, President Ivanov complained about delays in accepting Macedonia in the Euro-Atlantic family.

“You come at a time when [North] Macedonian society is deeply divided, and the [North] Macedonian [nation] is heavily wounded by broken promises, unfulfilled expectations and faltering trust in the international community,” he said.

Viktor Dimovski, state secretary of North Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry, told the media on May 6 that the pope’s historic visit comes at a crucial moment as the country seeks entry into the European Union and NATO.

“The pope’s visit strengthens further internal cohesion and unity, and brings messages of reconciliation and solidarity,” he said.

The pope’s visit also included a prayer at the memorial of North Macedonia’s most famous native daughter, Mother Teresa, who was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in 1910 in Skopje when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire.

Francis was surrounded by Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity nuns in praying before the memorial. Mother Teresa was canonized by Francis in 2016.

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to “sow these seeds” of solidarity.

“Living together is not always easy, we know that,” the pope said in a video message. “But it’s worth struggling toward, because the most beautiful mosaics are the ones that are richest in colors.”

muslims
But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. Pixabay

With the name dispute with Greece now resolved, North Macedonia, which has been an EU aspirant since 2005, hopes to get a clear signal for the start of accession talks in June. Skopje also expects to become the 30th NATO member at the end of the year.

Also Read: Puppeteers Bring Message of Harmony, Love, Tolerance in Pakistan’s Karachi

Stevo Pendarovski, who was elected president in a runoff election on May 5, said he saw his victory as a “ticket for NATO and EU.”

Six Western Balkan countries — Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia — are in various stages of the accession process to join the EU. (RFERL)