Progress in the fight against abuses within the Holy See is not always perceived in the same way from the different positions dealing with the issue.
Despite the great changes promoted by Francisco, many doubts continue to be raised.
And one of the loudest was exposed this Thursday in the form of a slamming door by the German Jesuit Hans Zollner, one of the greatest experts in the field and brand new signing of the Pope for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, created by Francisco in 2014. Now, the German has decided to leave it -after being renewed last year and still having another two years of responsibilities- and publish a statement explaining some of the most obvious reasons for his resignation.
The reasons given by Zollner are, fundamentally, his disagreement in the organization and functioning of the pontifical entity.
“There is a lack of clarity about the selection process for members and staff, about their respective roles and responsibilities;
and another area of concern is financial responsibility and accountability, which I think is inadequate.
It is crucial that the Commission clearly shows the use of the funds in its work, ”he denounced in the statement.
Zollner, a straight and strict man in this fight who has always spoken very clearly, has assured that "there should be transparency about how decisions are made within the commission."
The Pope "has accepted his request, deeply thanking him for his many years of service," reads the note, which praises the work of this expert, who in all these years "has helped to shape and implement many of the projects and programs originated in the deliberations of the Commission”.
According to a statement from Cardinal Seán O'Malley, president of this commission since its foundation, Father Zollner "has made this decision after reflecting on his recent appointment as consultant for the Protection of Minors in the Diocese of Rome and, in view of this, and his other responsibilities, he has asked to be excused from his position on the Commission."
But it does not seem that the reason is limited to the dedication that he wants to give to the other body where he participates.
Zollner has also thrown an indirect dart against the reform of the structure of the curia promulgated by the Pope, in which he has changed the body on which the commission depends.
“I am not aware of any norm that regulates the relationship between the commission and the Department for the Doctrine of the Faith, since the commission joined the Department last June.
Due to these structural and practical problems, I have decided to disassociate myself from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors”, he explains.
There is another reason that could also be found at the base of Zollner's disagreement with some of the latest events in the fight against abuses controlled by the Holy See.
In a recent interview with the Spanish radio station COPE, the German had expressed his perplexity at how the case of the Slovenian Jesuit Marko Ivan Rupnik, accused of abusing nuns, was proceeding.
“It's very frustrating to realize that despite everything that has happened, what has been discussed, debated and thought about in terms of abuse and its prevention, we still haven't made any progress,” he said.
On December 5, the Society of Jesus revealed that Rupnik had been denounced by several nuns from the Loyola Community in Ljubljana, of which he had been a spiritual father.
The victims had gone to the department of the Doctrine of the Faith to denounce some cases that dated back to the 1990s, but the Vatican body that is in charge of analyzing and judging these cases ruled that they had prescribed.
Rupnik, after the Vatican's examination of his case, was removed from some functions, such as the possibility of confessing or spiritually accompanying the faithful, but he was allowed to continue celebrating mass.
However, it was later learned that already in 2020 the Doctrine of the Faith had excommunicated him – the harshest punishment in the Church – for “absolving an accomplice of a sin against the sixth commandment”.
That is to say, the priest had confessed in 2018 to a nun with whom he had had sexual relations - he had allegedly abused her - forcing her to remain silent: one of her most serious canonical crimes.
So the excommunication had been canceled in record time by the same body that had imposed it.
A decision that raised suspicions, since the prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Spanish Luis Ladaria, is a Jesuit.
The Pontifical Commission of which Zollner formed already suffered two high-profile casualties years ago.
In 2016 and 2017, two of its members and victims of abuse by priests, the British Peter Saunders and the Irish Marie Collins, left the commission in protest, considering that there was no collaboration with the Vatican.
On September 30, Francis renewed the Commission with new members and with gender parity, since it is now made up of ten women and ten men, representing all the continents.
The new members are Bishops Peter Karam and Thibault Verny, Father Tim Brennan, Sisters Mary Niluka Perera and Annah Nyadombo;
the Mexican professor Irma Patricia Espinosa Hernández and other professionals, such as Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Anne-Marie Emilie Rivet-Duval, Teresa Devlin and Ewa Kusz.
The Chilean Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the three survivors of the abuses of the priest Fernando Karadima, the only victim of the organ, remains a member.
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