Canadian brings global fight for laws against clergy abuse to Holy See university

Chat News Today [Redcliff, Alberta, Canada]

January 18, 2024

By The Canadian Press

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A Canadian advocate is delivering a lecture today on a proposed zero-tolerance law for clergy abuse at a 473-year-old Jesuit university in Rome that has taught some of the highest figures in the Roman Catholic Church.

Gemma Hickey, who uses the pronouns they and them, will be presenting to scholars at the Pontifical Gregorian University about the importance of the law and the impacts of clergy abuse in their home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The school’s curriculum is accredited by the Holy See, the government of the Roman Catholic Church led by Pope Francis, and its graduates include canonized saints and more than a dozen popes.

Hickey, board president of the Washington-based group Ending Clergy Abuse, says they were invited to give the lecture by Rev. Hans Zollner, who leads a university institute that is dedicated in part to preventing clergy abuse.

Hickey says the lecture underscores the institute’s support for Ending Clergy Abuse’s proposed zero-tolerance policy, which the group hopes the Pope will adopt into canonical law.

They say current canonical law allows priests known to have sexually abused children or vulnerable adults to remain in ministry, and the group’s zero-tolerance policy would change that.

“The backing of the institute, it’s another step closer to our goal,” Hickey said in an interview. “And we’re so close.”

Hickey says many clergy abuse cases could have been prevented if adequate laws had been in place within the church.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2024.