The sole Irish member of the Vatican’s child protection commission has cautiously welcomed new rules to enable the removal from office of bishops whose actions endanger children.
The personal papal decree Comeuna madre amorevole (‘Like a loving mother’) facilitates disciplinary action against negligent bishops and their equivalents in canon law, including patriarchs of Eastern Catholic Churches and major superiors of religious orders.
Marie Collins, who has been a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors since its foundation two years ago, welcomed the decree, telling The Irish Catholic that “anything that can improve accountability is welcome in my book”.
“What’s important to me is that it emphasises the gravity of being negligent in the area of child protection,” she added, continuing, “It’s very important that that emphasis is there now, and it’s very clearly a reason for removing a bishop.”
Nonetheless, she cautioned, “implementation is the bottom line”. Observing that policies and procedures must be implemented, rather than simply announced, she said, “I obviously welcome this, but it can only be judged eventually on its effectiveness and when we see it actually taking effect.”
“Survivors around the world have been asking for action,” she continued, “so this is a good step forward, but it does have to be implemented, and that’s what I will be waiting to see: the implementation, and how quickly that comes.”