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2014-02-04

Two years ago, the Center for Child Protection helped organize a symposium for Vatican institutions and congregations to set up guidelines in tackling sex abuse.

Based in Munich for the moment, the Center continues helping bishops conferences around the world come up with guidelines, as required by the Vatican. But their work has also expanded.

FR. HANS ZOLLNER
Director, Center for Child Protection (Gregorian University)
"The Church could become a front-runner in prevention work. But this means we have also to do what we can in honestly taking on the issues from the past. This is not a cover-up. We have to be very seriously, working on what faults, the mistakes the sins and the crimes committed by members of the Church in the past.”

Founded in 2010, the Center for Child Protection will finish its pilot stage this year. In doing, so they'll move to Rome's Gregorian University. The transfer will make it easier for them to reach out to bishops, congregations, or any groups traveling through the Eternal City.

The Center not only acts as a resource guide for Catholic groups, but they've also developed an e-learning program to help answer important questions about this thorny issue.

FR. HANS ZOLLNER
Director, Center for Child Protection (Gregorian University)
"How do I know that abuse is possibly going on? What do I have to do in those cases? To whom do I have to report? How do I deal with the possible victim? How do I deal with the perpetrator.”

Currently, more than 800 people are enrolled in the 30-hour e-learning program. The participants are in 11 countries that partnered with the Center for its pilot phase. There's been so much interest, that the Center had to stop taking requests due to limited space.

Yet, despite the fact that the attention on sex abuse prevention is focused on countries in North America and Europe, the center targets areas like Asia and Africa. The Church there continues growing rapidly, making prevention efforts even more important. But there are challenges.

FR. HANS ZOLLNER
Director, Center for Child Protection (Gregorian University)
"Sometimes you have also to consider that some of those countries are in very poor conditions at the moment. There is war going on a civil war or war between countries so they don't have much to think about those guidelines.”

In addition to their prevention programs, there could be more work up ahead. In December, Pope Francis approved the creation of a special commission to fight sex abuse and help out victims. As one of the leading groups within the Vatican on the matter, the Center for Child Protection could also play a key role in the commission.


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