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Fr. Zollner on clerical sex abuse: Our goal is for victims of abuse to feel listened to

With the recent resignation of Marie Collins, the last clerical sex abuse survivor on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Commission and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican are attempting to point out the problem areas and move forward.  The president of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Hans Zollner, S.J., opens up about what else the Commission and the Vatican can do so each case is handled properly when it arrives to the congregation. FR. HANS ZOLLNER Pontifical Commission Protection of Minors "What they can do and what they should do and what they want to do also is at least acknowledge that they have received that letter. But you must realize that at the Congregation, that section of the congregation that deals with these cases. I think, at the moment, there are 10 people who deal with 100s of cases, not only from this year but from decades ago. It's not like in the US or Canada or Ireland, where for decades you have spoken about this, in some countries they are starting now. So things come up that have happened yesterday or 50 years ago.â? Now, some victims are contacting the Vatican, opening up about their situations that may have been hidden for years. However, they usually don't receive an answer, as the case is being investigated and the letter could be seen as an "interference in the process.â? The other problem is when these letters are forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, there are not enough people to respond to each victim and resolve the cases, leading many victims of abuse to think the Vatican does not care.  FR. HANS ZOLLNER Pontifical Commission Protection of Minors "What we have suggested is create an office with competent people who can reply so that survivors, victims of abuse feel listened to. This is the overall goal for this. That they know also where the process is, at which point the allegations are going, and when they can expect any kind of reply. But for this, the Holy See and especially the Congregation for the Doctrine and the Disciplinary section would need more personnel and we hope that we can help at least with this suggestion which we gave to the Holy Father.â? Zollner, along with Center for Child Protection from the Gregorian University goes around Rome giving workshops and safeguarding sessions to leaders, dicasteries and ministries of the Church. Additionally, he has 900 participants in e-learning programs on four continents and in 15 countries.  FR. HANS ZOLLNER Pontifical Commission Protection of Minors "We try to roll out a program of growing awareness that has the capacity to talk also about all that is connected to the prevention of abuse and the intervention, in case you realize that abuse is going on. We have lots of requests, so we need to expand our range and we need to hire other people because we can't deal with all the requests that we receive.â? While the current situation still lacks people and resources, hopefully the education being offered will soon train more people in this field. Thereby, additional personnel will be knowledgeable enough to assist the Vatican in these matters, and maybe even have this new office that Fr. Zollner has suggested to help both Church leaders and the victims of abuse.  MB AA -S -PR  Up:JC