Catholics offer child protection diplomas
The first diploma course of its kind within a Catholic environment – a one-semester diploma course in the protection of children – is being launched by the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Broken down into six two-week seminars, the first course is set to run from February to June 2016.
Seminars, according to this report, will delve into topics including terms and definitions surrounding the protection of minors, child rights, development and safety, safeguarding and prevention, theology, truth and justice, and care for those who have been abused.
Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, President of the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Center for Child Protection (CCP) said at the recent announcement of the course that this was a “first” for pontifical and Catholic universities.
Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, created by Pope Francis last autumn, added that the spiritual and theological approach to child protection has “not been substantially reflected upon” since the full gravity of the clerical abuse crisis began to surface 40 years ago.
Zollner said that “strangely enough”, no theologian has really taken on the task of developing a theological understanding of the issue.
He revealed that since there was no literature on the theological approach to safeguarding children, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors had created working groups studying the various theological and spiritual implications of the topic.
A working group within the commission dedicated to organising a day of prayer for abuse survivors has also been formed.
Earlier this year, in an interview with the Boston Globe, Zollner said he hoped that the Catholic Church:
Becomes a global frontrunner in child protection, as it already is in some countries.
But Zollner is lukewarm about reporting abuse to the police:
I read again and again in a lot of American commentary that there should be an absolute duty to report charges of abuse to the police.
The fact is, that requirement doesn’t exist in more than half the countries of the world, and there can be good reasons why not.
In Germany, the former Minister of Justice suggested such a requirement and was opposed by both victims of abuse as well as organizations of psychotherapists, who were concerned not only about protecting confidentiality but also the risk of re-traumatization. We have to listen to what the victims think, rather than imposing our solutions.