VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
La Croix International [France]
April 28, 2021
By Loup Besmond de Senneville
Vatican approves ramped-up status for center based at the Pontifical Gregorian University
The Vatican has blessed an initiative by the Pontifical Gregorian University to transform its Centre for Child Protection into a new Institute of Anthropology.
The Congregation for Catholic Education approved the change on April 15, giving additional heft to an anti-abuse center that has been based in Rome since 2014.
The Jesuit-run university’s new institute will open next September at the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. Its purpose is to facilitate “interdisciplinary studies on human dignity and the care of vulnerable persons”.
The Centre for Child Protection was originally founded in 2012 by the Diocese of Munich and a clinic in Ulm, Germany.
Since its origins it has been headed by the German Jesuit priest and psychotherapist Hans Zollner, who will continue as director of the new institute.The change in center’s status is significant.
“This transformation will allow the Centre to expand its scope, grant academic degrees and have its own faculty,” a statement from the Centre pointed out.
It said the new institute “will offer a proactive and positive approach to such sensitive topics as sexual abuse prevention, intervention and protection”.
“The care of survivors of sexual abuse is at the heart of the Centre’s concerns,” the statement said.
Expanding research to include vulnerable peopleThe institute is expected to broaden its field of research to include the mistreatment of vulnerable people and no longer just the abuse of children.
In its press release, the Centre also emphasized the new institute intends to draw on different academic disciplines, integrating a cross-cultural approach.
Zollner has been a pioneer in raising awareness among Catholic Church leaders about the fight against sexual abuse.
The 54-year-old Jesuit, who has taught psychology at the Gregorian University, became aware of the issue in the 1990s during his training in psychotherapy.
German authorities asked him to be part of a working group that was formed in 2010 to assess the extent of abuse in the Catholic Church.That work eventually led Zollner to establish the Centre for the Protection of Minors.