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New safeguarding institute extends research to include abuse of vulnerable adults

A Vatican-backed research institute previously dedicated to studying the sexual abuse of minors is expanding its mission to include safeguarding against the sexual and spiritual abuse of adults in the Church.

The Pontifical Gregorian University's safeguarding institute, formally known as the Institute of Anthropology, Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care, incorporates the University's Centre for Child Protection into a department of anthropology fully recognized by the Vatican. 

With the new status it will be able to award degrees, have a dedicated faculty, and partner with other academic institutions to advance research initiatives on combating abuse. 

Prefect, Congregation for Catholic Education
"It is to be hoped that an institute that favors interdisciplinary studies of human dignity, and on the care of vulnerable individuals, can become a reference point for any global education alliance that is not limited to pleasing declarations of intent, but rather is translated into action."

The Institute will research practical measures for abuse prevention, as well as the psychological impact of abuse on victims with the aim of incorporating its findings in Vatican policy-making, which relies heavily on research from it's pontifical universities.

Superior General of the Society of Jesus
"It has become clear that it is not enough to have good laws, rules, and protocols, and to administer them properly. Establishing wrongdoing and establishing proportionate sanctions is necessary, but insufficient, to heal individuals, to transform the social relations in which wrongdoing originates, and to sustain a culture in which the dignity of all people is respected."

Juan Carlos Cruz also addressed the Institute's inauguration. He is an abuse survivor from Chile who was appointed a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors by Pope Francis in March.

"I'm a resurrected man after having my life destroyed, but yet I am now someone who tries to help solve this issue from within the Church."

Director, Institute of Anthropology
"We can no longer accept excuses for not listening to victims, for ignoring their suffering, and we need to work for the care of children and vulnerable adults alike, that is the heart of our work."

The Pontifical Gregorian University's new safeguarding institute highlights the Church's response to the abuse of women religious and seminarians, among others, with the aim of ensuring that the dignity of all vulnerable people is respected worldwide.