Vatican goes online against child abuse

2011-07-02 12:01

Vatican City - 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 about 200 experts, diocesan officials and representatives of congregations attending.

It will be "a step ... on a long and painful path", Zollner said, adding the website would bring together the latest research on child abuse and Church laws, while allowing churches in different countries to have their say.

Rising anger, lawsuits

The website will be in five languages - English, French, German, Italian and Spanish - and the project is funded to last three years.

The Church is struggling to deal with rising anger and a string of lawsuits following thousands of abuse claims in Europe and the United States.

But many in the Church are concerned that the cases uncovered so far may only be the tip of the iceberg since abuses in much of the developing world - including in Africa and Latin America - have so far received little attention.

Pope Benedict XVI's ever stronger denunciations of abuse are bringing some changes, however, and national bishops conferences around the world are set to come up with common guidelines against paedophiles by May 2012.

Zollner explained the process is slow and complex because of wide variations in national laws and the need for international co-ordination.

"The general sensitivity to the problem has clearly increased," he said.

Psychological tests

"But the Church is not a monolithic block. Sensitivities are very different. A critical point appears to have been reached," he added.

"Many bishops are now saying: 'We have to act'. There needs to be a more consistent and co-ordinated response as wanted by the Holy Father."

The common agreement in the Church is that those responsible "must receive their punishment according to Church law and criminal law", he said.

Among the changes Zollner has been working on, is stricter psychological tests for would-be priests to identify possible abusers.

The e-learning centre will make use of research from the child and adolescent psychiatry department at Ulm university in Germany, he said.

Abuse victims groups have accused the Vatican of failing to take the problem of paedophilia seriously early on, of not co-operating with police and allowing priests and bishops who covered up for abusers to go unpunished.

Shielding perpetrators

"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."

  • PMG - 2011-07-02 12:12

    Against or for - You never really know with those disgusting paedophiles.

      zaatheist - 2011-07-03 04:58

      Its a new social networking site for the men in dresses where they can swap details of Sunday School marks.

  • vis vang - 2011-07-02 12:40

    That's like a fox pretending to care about hen rights. The Vatican-the last refuge of sodomites. I wonder if the 'pous' had a full STD panel run recently. I wouldn't want him spitting on a petri dish anytime soon.

      montecristo - 2011-07-02 14:00

      So what should they do? Remain silent? Come out in favour of child abuse? Damned if they do, and damned if they don't, hey, vis vang.

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-08-03 12:11

      How about they throw out every sick bastard who ever touched a child like this and excommunicate them for good, also make Child molestation a Mortal sin, or something.

  • Bloodbane - 2011-07-02 12:46

    Pot! kettle! hello.... Vatican must get their finger out of children's ..... before they try sort out the issue!

  • OZNOB - 2011-07-02 13:06

    a step in the right direction that should of been done a long time ago. the vatican should be alot more proactive and aggressive in dealing with this dragging their heels it only prolongs the suffering of the victims of this crime

  • Anton - 2011-07-02 14:03

    No, one does not need a website. What's the point ? Even the known paedophiles in the RC church, are still there. Just fire the whole lot, and than re employ the few ,who don't play their sick games with children !!

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-07-02 15:59

      I say they should treat these vile bastards the only way they should be treated. WITH A BULLET TO THE BACK OF THE SKULL!

  • james4usa - 2011-07-02 15:36

    The RC church a vile corrupt entity. The Protestants were protesting corruption and left and nothing has changed. The Vatican has already paid close To a BILLION $ to victims. They were aware of boys getting abused and simply tranferred homosexual Priests and covered up.

      x - 2011-07-02 16:38

      That would be peadophile priests. Homo and heterosexual men do not abuse children... peadophiles do.

  • Oxygen - 2011-07-02 16:37

    Would somebody please supply the Vatican with free up to date sex toys so that they can play themselves to death.

  • vis vang - 2011-07-02 20:12

    The headline should read, "Vatican goes online to look for children to abuse."

  • zaatheist - 2011-07-03 05:01

    Judging by the comments here it seems that few believe anything Vatican or the Pope says. What most of us are objecting to is that the RCC, which claims to be the moral authority, has an official policy to support and protect these deviants. The dignity of the Church is more important to people like Pope Benedict than the welfare of children.

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-07-03 11:08

      ^---- IN A NUTSHELL!

      marc.dhotman - 2011-07-05 12:31

      If it is official policy, please point it out on one of there official documents. Id love to follow up on this and spread the news. If not spreading lies just does not help anything.

  • maceye - 2011-07-03 14:30

    There are less than 1 percent of catholic priests who are considered paedophiles within the church. All of a sudden the whole church is considered a haven for these despicable priests. Unfortunately whatever you may say about the catholic church, it is one billion strong and your mean and mostly ignorant comments won't dissuade us members to leave the church. The problem is far worse in protestant, muslim or jewish circles, and more importantly abuse is far more rife in our schoolinf system. The only reason why it seems a catholic problem, is because the church holds itself to a higher standard than most other denominations and when these are exposed, it gives food for its enemies to try and discredit the church. It wont waver on issues which other churches play fast and loose with. And another reason why I know I am in the right religion, because the world hates us, which was foretold by Jesus in the bible. So all you ignorant fools, do me a favour and pick up a book and read, maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised what the catholic church really stands for.

      Anton - 2011-07-03 21:00

      maceye Firstly, At least we agree that these priests are ,despicable,. Secondly, One is not attacking your religion, but attacking your church. I don't think that even anybody is asking you to leave your church, what others are asking you , is to stand up and say that this is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE AND MUST STOP. But what do you do ??? You say in your posts, achhh, its only one percent and in other churches, there are also these thugs that abuse children. I doubt its only one percent, but say you are right, THAT is not the main problem. The PROBLEM is, THAT THIS ONE PERCENT HAVE BEEN PROTECTED WITHIN THE RC CHURCH !!!!!! Even the current pope has in the past, protected paedophiles !!!!!! But what is most despicable in your post is when you say; ,,The problem is far worse in Protestant, Muslim or Jewish circles,, THAT STATEMENT IS TOTALLY OUTRAGEOUS !!! Let me just remind you that in countries like England, Ireland, Holland , Germany and Belgium, THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of cases, of sexual child abuse , within the RC Church have been recorded , just in the past year. THis is NOT the case in other religious institutions. The reason for this, I will leave up to you to work out !! And to call us ,ignorant fools, I would say, have a good look at yourself

      Spoedvark - 2011-07-04 08:06

      maceye Since when is Tu Quoque a valid argument? Read and try to understand zaatheists's post above and see why none of us have the slightest respect for your church. The RCC had and still has an official policy of protecting child molesters. Your current Pope was the head of the OFFICIAL and INSTITUTIONAL process. Your church, EVEN TODAY, are protecting rapists and shifting the blame to the secular world. The RCC holding itself to a higher standard? You are joking, surely? Is this the "excuse" your parish priest is dishing up to the flock? Who is ignorant now? This IS a catholic problem. I am not aware of any other institution that spirits its workers away to protect them against the police OR who threatens victims with excommunication and hell if they dare speak out. Your comments are as disgusting as your church's conduct.

      Nicky - 2012-01-22 10:51

      Even the Pope no longer pulls out the 1 percent lie. The US Church has admitted to 4-6 percent but that is based on the world's dodgiest statistics supplied by proven liars, with a vested interest in protecting their own ample backsides, and a well documented inability to put the interests of innocent children above those of the pope's rapist army. Every time an apologist brings up the issue of percentages or other groups also guilty of abuse it is a reprehensible attempt to distract attention away from holding the guilty responsible for their own actions. 1 child raped is too many. 1 rapist protected is too many. Thousands of rapists and millions of abused children is no accident - it is systemic. A system only able to continue because of those who mindlessly repeat the lies, excuses and distractions they are taught from the pulpit to parrot, instead of saying, as Anton suggests, "This is totally unacceptable to any compassionate human being and must stop". Don't keep turning up obediently every week. Don't keep giving them more money with which to heroically defend the guilty and re-abuse the victims. Or expect to be deservedly treated as part of the problem. Those who protect paedophile protectors are a vital part of the system which offers these monsters such a warm and welcoming home in the arms of dysfunctional mother church. While victims are driven away to suffer in silence by the lies and vicious attacks from sanctimonious hypocrites.

  • Johann - 2011-12-08 09:41

    While I am not Catholic, Macaye has a valid point. Phillip Jenkins, the Edwin Earle Sparks professor at the University of Pennsylvania, did research in this area and didn't find proof that catholic clergy abuse children more than protestant ones. "In 2002 Jenkins, who is a Catholic turned Episcopalian, discussed the Catholic sex abuse cases, asserting that "[his] research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination—or indeed, than non-clergy." Excerpt from Wikipedia. Child abuse is despicable and should be condemned and punished regardless of whom commits it. But it is clear from the comments here that the scandal is just being used by some to bash the catholic church. I happen to know that during Apartheid, if you were a dominee, school teacher or other authority figure, you were above criticism and any child abuse allegations against you would not be investigated, and covered up by the authorities.An distant uncle of mine(whom I never met personally, thank God) was a paedophile who molested young boys in the sixties and seventies and the school covered it up. He eventually died of AIDS, on an unrelated note. Calling ALL catholic priests paedophiles based on the actions of a few, is just bigoted catholic bashing. It's like saying all muslims are terrorists, all afrikaners are racists, and all black people are rapists.

  • Nicky - 2012-01-22 10:10

    Hard to take very seriously for two reasons: 1). The Jesuits are one of the worst hardline orders that bully and re-abuse victims mercilessly and are still doing so today. I have a friend having to endure additional abuse thanks to their "compassion" for his suffering right now. 2). Nice line about listening to victims, but why are victims not invited to speak at the conference? Or is it only pretend or theoretical victims they listen to, not real ones. You know, the ones they are talking about when they make completely false claims like "We are doing everything possible to help victims", "the system is working well and victims are happy with our efforts". Victims have been made to suffer a thousand times extra by the appalling, unconscionable and often criminal behaviour of senior church officials protecting rapists, sacrificing additional children, and exponentially adding to the suffering of victims, leading to destroyed lives, suicide and generational harm. But at least those rapists and their criminal protectors can still pretend to be holy, are still living lives of unparalleled luxury and indulgence, and are above criticism and above the law.

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