Abuse crisis damaged people more than Church

By Gia Myers, 12 February 2020
Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


The Church has been damaged by the sexual abuse crisis, but people have been damaged more, according to a leading Vatican safeguarding expert.

Fr Hans Zollner SJ, a member on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told a conference in the US: “Much damage has been done to the church” due to clergy sexual abuse, said Fr Zollner, “but more damage has been done to human beings.” In responding to this crisis, “many people are engaged in the same mission: a safer church and a safer world,” he said.

Almost 200 people filled the Driscoll Hall Auditorium at the Augustinian Catholic University of Villanova in Pennsylvania, looking to deepen their understanding about global perspectives on the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

The evening event was the third conference in the four-part series of discussions with Catholic theologians hosted by Villanova to examine the abuse crisis. It featured Fr Zollner, a licensed German psychologist and psychotherapist with a doctorate in theology and one of the church’s leading experts in the area of safeguarding minors.

Fr Zollner is also the president of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and an adviser to the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy.

The crisis is one of “institutional traumatisation” in which wrongdoings have been perpetrated by an institution upon individuals dependent on that institution, according to Fr Zollner, who said “steps forward” to address it globally are being made in Rome.

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Gia Myers writes for CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

With thanks to The Tablet and Catholic News Service (CNS) and Gia Myers, where this article originally appeared.


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