The need for zero tolerance and accountability – Marie Collins

by | Feb 13, 2019 | Church A, Church Archive, Safeguarding

“There is an international standard for child safety and that should apply no mater what part of the world the child is in” – Marie Collins

Marie Collins is a former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

The meeting on the ‘Protection of Minors’ will take place in the Vatican from 21- 24 Feb 2019.  Pope Francis has called a representative from every Episcopal Conference around the world.  Archbishop Eamon Martin as president of the Irish Episcopal Conference will represent the Irish Church.


Speaking on an iCatholic preview of the Protection of Minors meeting which will take place in the Rome next week, Marie Collins said that she hopes that this summit wouldn’t simply be a repeat of an earlier Vatican gathering in 2012 but would implement zero tolerance throughout the Church.

“My problem is they did that seven years ago in 2012 they had a symposium backed by the Vatican, I took part in it … and that was supposed to be the beginning of change, it was called towards Healing and Renewal, and this one that’s coming up in February. it’s going to be an exact replica of that”

“In my view what should be done at that meeting is have each of those representatives commit to implementing, in their Episcopal Conference, concrete Zero Tolerence, best practice Safeguarding and proper care for survivors. And no matter what part of the world they come from, this is a perfect opportunity to get each one of them to sign up to implementing proper Safeguarding”

“My reaction really is that it’s a disgrace, there’s no good reason why there should be a delay this whole issue has been known to the Church for decades and just saying that and admitting that we haven’t done anything about it or done the right things about it. it’s not enough.  you know what we want to see now and we should have seen a long time ago – is it being got to grips with in the proper way and in the way it should have been.  There’s no excuse.”

Reflecting on her meeting with Pope Francis during his visit to Ireland last August, Marie said she felt listened to but explained that they disagreed on how Bishops should be called to account.

“He is of the view that there can’t be any centralized investigations or judgments of Church leaders that they must be local and he believes each Bishop should be judged by a different standard because they come from different cultures and I find that unacceptable. There’s an international standard for child safety and that should apply no matter what part of the world the child is in”

Complimenting the current safeguarding standards and audits in the Irish Church, Marie said she hoped that these practices could be used by other countries.

“The example of Ireland is a very good one if the church would look at it more closely and extrapolate from it out to the wider Church and then from that into society, in areas where there are not good practices”

“The Church could flip this whole crisis on its head and make it a positive by learning from the countries that are getting it right, bring it into everywhere the Church is and then bring it out into society”