Saunders’s departure from abuse commission helps resolve body’s identity crisis

Expert insight and analysis…

Catholic Voices Comment

Peter Saunders, a British advocate for survivors, talks during an interview with the Associated Press in Rome, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. 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 mandate and mission. During a meeting of the commission 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. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

[Austen Ivereigh in Bogotá] The Vatican’s announcement yesterday that a British abuse survivor and activist will be leaving Pope Francis’s child protection commission is, of course, sad news. But it was also inevitable, the fruit of tensions over the commission’s identity that have been present within it since its inception.

According to a brief Vatican statement, the 17 expert members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors took a unanimous decision (with one abstention) that that Peter Saunders should take a “leave of absence”.

Saunders was invited to join the body in December 2014 after meeting Pope Francis earlier that year (see CV Comment here).The Commission, which meets twice a year in Rome, includes psychiatrists and therapists and experts of various kinds, and is presided by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston.

Its brief, which was never well defined at first, is to assist the Vatican in developing guidelines…

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