James Martin, S.J.July 04, 2011

An update on the Vatican's conference on sexual abuse to be held at the Pontifical Gregorian University in February, from AFP News.

The Vatican is turning to the Internet in its struggle against child abuse with a new website allowing clergy around the world to share information on eradicating the problem. A key figure behind the initiative is German psychologist priest Hans Zollner from the Vatican's Gregorian University, who spoke to AFP about the need for fundamental changes in how the Catholic Church handles abuse cases. "Bishops have to give priority to victims," said Zollner, a member of the order of Jesuits, often seen as intellectuals inside the Church. "People working inside dioceses and religious orders should be taught to listen to them. All complaints have to be taken seriously," he said. Zollner's university will host a conference next February at which the new e-learning centre is expected to be launched, with some 200 experts, diocesan officials and representatives of congregations attending.


"For almost all victims, the most important thing is to be heard by a representative of the institution whose members have hurt them," Zollner said. Victims "should have the chance to express all their pain, anger, depression and fears to an official representative of the Church," he added. "The pope's stance is there should no longer be priests who are protected and moved along. The Church must no longer give the impression it is shielding the perpetrators as it has often been seen as doing in the past," he said. The Jesuit father added: "It makes the victims suffer a second time."

Read the rest here.

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John Barbieri
10 years 2 months ago
Will actions follow the words?
10 years 2 months ago
I continue to beleive that the sex abuse isue will not be  dealt with justly until the voices of victims are truly heard not only by the hierachy, but review boards, the range of catholic press and the ears, yes, of the faithful.
One of the contingent issues is how the legal representatives of the Church will react.
Beyond that, will there be any real accountability within hierachical circles?
10 years 2 months ago
A MODEL ALREADY EXISTS that the Catholic Church should look at, but alas, may not! I wrote about the community conflict resolution program at the San Francisco Zen center after interviewing the co-chair of the program. It was for a paper in one of my courses at USF. The program was instituted at the center after the founder had died, and the community was beset by corruption because of the new leader's youthfulness, inexperience, and hubris. This was in the early 1970's and well documented at the time.
However, what's required for such a program is for each parish to actually train and set up an independent body of mediators to 'listen', not just to children and adults who have a claim, but the conflict resolution board must be there to mediate all grievances in the parish.
And this means, that parish communities will have to be accountable, and this means better organization and communication between everyone from the pastor to the People of God sitting in the pews.
The three conferences at Jesuit universities in 2004 essentially cover all the bases, from structural problems to legal and pastoral issues that pervade our whole structure.
This conference in February should not be another panacea.
One can only pray.
Cody Serra
10 years 2 months ago
One can only pray that this new conference does offer coordinated approaches to the problem with global reach. However, nothing will be totally effective until anyone, from the top down and from the bottom up, is made accountable and receive the same justice: civil, criminal and canonical, as it may apply. 

The most depressing part of the sexual abuse scandal is the church and hierarchical/clergy cover-ups to save face for the institution, instead of offering compassion and help to the abused victims. God's love and justice was ignored.

I hope this new effort finds justice for the victims, and enforces also justice for all those involved, regardless of their status and position.
Bill Freeman
10 years 2 months ago
The sex abuse scandal in the RC Church will come to a screeching halt when the first bishop is indicted, convicted and sent to prison.  Then and only then - what the bishops are held personally responsible - will the get serious about this horrific scandal.
Jim McCrea
10 years 2 months ago
I think one of the main problems in the past was the unwillingness of parents to believe a child who complained about a priest's actions.  Priests were held in very high regard and the deference almost always went to his status and position, not to a child's complaints.

Them days are lonnnnnnnnng gone.  Thanks God.
Frank Gibbons
10 years 2 months ago
I absolutely concur that when addressing clerical abuse that the victim must be given priority.  I know my post will elicit anger, but I think we need to remember that the mishandling of the abuse scandal sullied more than the hierarchy.  It's not just the Bishops who need to focus on the victims - the Jesuits need to do a much better job on this as well. 

Read this heartbreaking account of how the Society of Jesus handled this poor victim.  It's particularly painful as the victim himself was a Jesuit priest. 


Or this reporting of the Haitian abuse scandal that rocked Fairfield.

"There I was begging and pleading with the Jesuit Catholic priest for assistance in providing food, shelter, clothing and school payments for just 20 boys who were raped and sodomized by Perlitz. ... But not once during the meeting did von Arx lean over and ask me how the boys were doing," Kendrick said.
Cody Serra
10 years 2 months ago
Sorry for misspellings and unfinished sentences above.  My computer was acting up,  and I couldn't fix it.

The sentence cut in the second paragraph should say:  "The cover-ups were everywhere, and they are, undeniably, the greater scandal of all."

Following, third paragraph, it should read: "as well as" diocesan...

Sorry, again.
Cody Serra
10 years 2 months ago
       T?here is no excuse for anyone on this matter. But to bring up just the Jesuits? ?h?e?r?e?,????? ??because this is a Jesuit magazine feels like l?v?e?r?y? ow hit.? ?????

Every one involved in the sexual scandal should be accountable to the same justice, regardless of colors or religious orders, or ranks, or positions, including the lay people who knew, and remained silent.?? ??T?h?e? ?c?o?v?e?r??-?u?p?? ?a?n?d? ?d?i?s?r?e?g?a?r?d? ?f?o?r? ?v?i?c?t?i?m?s? ?i?s? ?u?n?d?e?n?i?a?b?l?e?.

I don't believe you add to much new information to the sad story in our Church, other than relentelessly focus i?on one particular religious order, which as all ??others,? ?a?s? ?w?e??l??l? ?????????????????????a?s? ?t?h?e?????  ??diocesan priests, and the Hierarchy, is made up of human beings, sinful and holy, ??saints and sinners, ?w?i?t?h? strengths and weaknesses?, as in any human organization. 

Victims were forgotten everywhere. Maybe with more love and compassion, we could contribute to the solution with justice, and praying for forgiveness.
Molly Roach
10 years 2 months ago
The truth and reconciliation process in South Africa looks like a good way to go.  Words are not enough.
Larry P
10 years 2 months ago
I'm surprised to think that after all these years it's still such an ongoing problem.
Didn't Cardinal Sean fix all of this a while ago?
Maybe the policies are just not working.
(It's got to be devastating not only to the victims but to the whole church. This whole thing is HORRIBLE)

So what's the answer?
Maybe they should revamp the priesthood and let them get married.
If they had a wife on their case that would straighten em right out !
(Just my 2 cents worth)

When I thought about it for a while, I found this article to be very disturbing.
We, the laity, have had enough of this.
There's got to be an answer and we look to our leaders to find a permanent solution.

It's time to get tough... Make them stand in front of thier parishes and publicly apologize. Put their pictures in the paper. Start a campaign to change public oppinion
I don't know what else, but I'm sure there's a lot more that could be done to discourage this type of behavior and to increase the penalties to a point where they wouldn't dare to abuse our children anymore. It could be a lot more than just monetary settlement and we look to our leaders for creative solutions.

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