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Dealing with cases of sexual abuse: From denial to healing and prevention

2013-02-08

FR. ROBERT OLIVER
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Chief Prosecutor

"Speaking to the entire Church, the Pope called on everyone, the people of God, to recognize that we had failed in helping victims of sexual abuse. The cries of our brothers and sisters were often answered with denial and lack of support.”

Fr. Oliver started his new post with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on February 1st. When it comes to specific numbers, he says about 600 cases of sexual abuse, most of them from 1965 to 1985 have been issued on average in the last few years. The highest number of reports was back in 2004, when 800 cases were reported.

This meeting comes a year after the first main symposium was held in Rome, where Church leaders were introduced to the online Centre for Child Protection, which offers courses on dealing with this critical issue.

Back in 2011, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith called on all  Bishop's conferences, which total 112, to submit their guidelines of how they deal with cases of sexual abuse. The categories they were called to respond on were divided in five points: Assisting the victims, protection of minors, formation of priests and religious, dealing with an abusive priest and collaboration with civil authorities. Most have responded, but many African countries have not.

FR. ROBERT OLIVER
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Chief Prosecutor

 "More than three quarters of episcopal conferences have sent their guidelines to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Most of these responses are from South America, North America, Europe and Oceania.”

Fr. Oliver pledged a zero tolerance policy when it comes to priests and Church officials found to be guilty of abuse. But he also added that this healing and even prevention are part of a long term process.


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