Pope's sex abuse advisory committee asks survivor to step back

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis' sex abuse advisory committee voted Saturday to temporarily sideline one of its members, a high-profile abuse survivor who had clashed with the commission over its mission.

See Full Article

Peter Saunders, a British advocate for survivors, had been highly critical of the Vatican's slow pace of progress in taking measures to protect children and punish bishops who covered up for pedophile priests. He has also insisted the pope's commission was not just crafting long-term policies to fight abuse but also should intervene immediately in individual cases.

During a commission meeting Saturday, "it was decided that Mr. Peter Saunders would take a leave of absence from his membership to consider how he might best support the commission's work," the Vatican said in a statement.

The decision is a blow to Francis' efforts to show that he is tough on abuse, since the presence of Saunders and another abuse survivor, Marie Collins, had given the commission credibility.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Saunders said commission members asked him to step aside after concluding they could no longer trust him to work within the scope of the commission's mandate.

"The commission members took a vote and apart from one abstention they agreed that they could no longer continue to work with me," Saunders said. "I do not want to prevent the work of the commission, the good work that the commission is doing from going ahead, so I had no choice but to step aside."

His departure leaves just one other abuse survivor on the commission, which was formed in 2013 to advise the Vatican on protecting children, educating church personnel and parishioners about abuse, and keeping pedophiles out of the priesthood.

The commission was formed after victims' groups questioned whether the Argentine pope, who had never dealt with an abuse case, really understood the scope of the scandal in the church. But the commission took a big step last year when it successfully proposed that the Vatican create an in-house tribunal to hear cases of bishops accused of failing to protect their flocks.

The lack of bishop accountability has prompted years of criticism from abuse victims, advocacy groups and others that the Vatican had failed to punish or forcibly remove bishops who moved predator priests from parish to parish, where they could rape again, rather than report them to police or remove them from ministry.

The Vatican has released no information about the progress in the tribunal's work so far.

The commission in general, and Saunders in particular, had been highly critical of Francis' decision to appoint a Chilean bishop despite allegations from abuse survivors that he had covered up for the country's most notorious pedophile. The bishop denied the charge and Francis stood by the appointment.

The commission has stressed that its mission is not to intervene in individual cases but to craft policy guidelines for the church.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • En garde! France's Macron won't let go in handshake showdown with Trump

    World News CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- U.S. President Donald Trump met his match in a handshake showdown with France's new president, Emmanuel Macron. At their first meeting, ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, the two men locked hands for so long that knuckles started turning white. Source
  • N.S. political leaders to square off in televised roundtable

    Canada News CTV News
    Nova Scotia's political leaders will square off today in the last debate before voters go to the polls next week. Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil, Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie and NDP Leader Gary Burrill are taking part in the roundtable debate at Saint Mary's University in Halifax tomorrow. Source
  • Boy, 5, dies after falling off bike onto road

    Canada News CTV News
    A five-year-old cyclist has died after being struck by a vehicle in downtown Toronto. Police were called to the scene at Lake Shore Boulevard West and Jameson Avenue around 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday. Const. Source
  • Federal environment minister to make industrial emissions announcement in Calgary

    Canada News CBC News
    Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna is in Calgary Thursday to make what the federal government says will be an "important announcement" about the federal policy on industrial emissions. McKenna is set to speak at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) starting at 9 a.m. Source
  • Fish plant burns to the ground on island in northern N.B.

    Canada News CTV News
    MISCOU , N.B. - A fish plant in northeastern New Brunswick has been destroyed by fire, dealing another blow to a community hit by a major ice storm this winter and suspected tornadoes last week. Source
  • Don't trust rosy Instagram photos of dangerous B.C. trails, rescuers say

    Canada News CTV News
    Search and rescue officials in B.C. are warning would-be hikers to do their homework before striking out to into the province's backcountry, after several ill-equipped individuals were recovered from the mountains over the Victoria Day weekend. Source
  • Parties trade barbs as poll shows N.S. race tightening in final days

    Canada News CTV News
    Nova Scotia's party leaders were largely off the campaign trail ahead of Thursday night's debate, but the parties duelled by press release as a new poll suggested a tightening race. The NDP and Progressive Conservatives attacked the incumbent Liberals over health care, while the Liberals highlighted the Tory promise to "cut taxes for big business to unprecedented rates. Source
  • Supreme Court to look at constitutionality of victim surcharges

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The Supreme Court of Canada agreed Thursday to look at whether it's unconstitutional to make a poor person convicted of a crime pay a surcharge that helps victims. The case at issue involves Alex Boudreault, a high-school dropout who had never held a steady job and who pleaded guilty in September 2013 to four counts relating to various breaches of probation orders. Source
  • Convicted killer lunges at co-defendant while verdicts read

    World News CTV News
    BOSTON -- One of four people charged with murder lunged at a co-defendant and shouted profanities and "I'm not going to forget!" while their guilty verdicts were being read in a Boston courtroom. Omar Bonner, Omar Denton, Andrew Robertson, and Javaine Watson were convicted Wednesday in the December 2013 shooting death of 25-year-old Romeo McCubbin in the city's Dorchester neighbourhood. Source
  • N.S. schools see average 1,100 threats or acts of 'physical violence' monthly

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- Students commit, incite or threaten some form of physical violence an average of about 1,100 times a month at Nova Scotia's schools, prompting teachers to call for more support staff and a clearer discipline process. Source