Expert says follow-up to anti-abuse summit won’t be an ‘easy ride’


February 28, 2019

By Inés San Martín

German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner is a man on a mission to guarantee the safety of minors within the Catholic Church. This aim, he knows, is a task that will require responsibility, transparency and accountability, and the path forward “will not be an easy ride.”

A psychologist by training, Zollner is a member of the pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors, the president of the Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Gregorian University and in 2010 he was a member of the “Round Table on Child Abuse” commissioned by the German government.

For years he’s been traveling the world, training priests, bishops, religious and laity on the protection of minors. Education has long been his main focus, and hence he’s often not one to comment on specific cases.

For instance, on Theodore McCarrick, removed from the priesthood by Francis after the former cardinal was found guilty of sexually abusing minors, Zollner simply said, “It’s my understanding that [the Vatican] is working on the release of some information, some kind of documentation, of what can be said with regards to this topic.”

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who leads the papal commission on minors, went further at a press conference on Friday, when he said he wants to see a report from the Vatican detailing who knew what and when about McCarrick. He also said he believes that report will include information sent to the Holy See by the four dioceses where McCarrick served, meaning New York, Metuchen, Newark and Washington, D.C.

Zollner was also one of the four churchmen tapped by Pope Francis to organize the Feb. 21-24 Vatican “Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church,” often described more simply as the pope’s “anti-abuse summit.”

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