Founding member of Vatican abuse commission responds to resignation

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On March 29, Fr. Hans Zollner released a statement announcing his resignation from the Vatican Commission for the Protection of Minors. 

In it, he explained the reasons for his departure. They included an alleged lack of clarity in committee roles and a lack of transparency in both decision-making and financial management. During a media briefing, he gave further explanation. 

Institute of Anthropology, Gregorian University
Starting in May 2022, on four occasions, I wrote to the leadership of the Commission the concerns I mentioned in my statement. I received no response.

The Vatican Commission for the Protection of Minors has not yet provided any response to these concerns. 

Their most recent statement was the reaction to Fr. Zollner's resignation. The President of the Commission, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, said he was 'surprised, disappointed and in total disagreement' with the claims made by Fr. Zollner about the effectiveness of the Commission. At the same time, he praised Fr. Zollner's work and noted that his resignation will not prevent further collaboration. Cardinal O'Malley noted that Fr. Zollner 'has become an ambassador for the protection of minors.'

Despite his resignation, Fr. Zollner will continue to work in this field through his roles as Director of the Institute of Anthropology at the Gregorian University and as a consultant for the Diocese of Rome. 

Fr. Zollner says he regrets that some dioceses and congregations have not yet adopted Pope Francis' recently established guidelines. 

Institute of Anthropology, Gregorian University
Many victims tell me, 'You are the first person who has listened to me.' It's not that they didn't try to follow the canonical path—they went to bishops and dioceses but found no one with an open mind or heart.

Fr. Zollner also reflected on whether it is time to change some of the Vatican's policies. From his viewpoint, the diocesan office dedicated to helping victims is ineffective. He says that it is lacking discretion: an essential element for those reporting abuse. 

Institute of Anthropology, Gregorian University
There must be a discreet space for victims. What there is now is a big sign that says:“Here are the victims.” And there is a doorman who says: 'Where are you going?” “I'm a victim of abuse, what do I do?” It shouldn't be like that.

Some abuse victims have created an initiative with the goal of supporting eachother. 

Institute of Anthropology, Gregorian University
Our Institute receives many requests from victims who ask for help to create support groups, to create their own way of dealing with this experience that ranges from anger to a search for healing.
They want to be involved in the life of the Church. Many victims want to contribute. And many say, 'So why not, let's give it a try.'

Before his resignation in March, Fr. Zollner was one of the senior members of the Vatican Commission established by Pope Francis to fight abuse in the Church. 

The Vatican Commission for the Protection of Minors continues to face the delicate issue of abuse with the challenge of applying its policies universally. 



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