Rome center designed to fight sexual abuse expands its reach
ROME — In the Church’s latest attempt to demonstrate resolve in its fight against child sexual abuse, an online anti-abuse training and advocacy center sponsored by Rome’s Jesuit-run Gregorian University has announced a major expansion intended to extend the global reach of its efforts.
The overhaul of the Centre for Child Protection is unfolding in collaboration with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the body created by Pope Francis last year to lead the charge for reform, headed by Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.
The Centre for Child Protection is an outgrowth of a major conference staged at the Gregorian University in 2012 that featured the head of the Vatican’s powerful Congregation for Bishops apologizing to victims during a penitential liturgy at a Roman basilica.
“The prevention of sexual and other kinds of abuse of minors is of greatest importance for the universal Church,” O’Malley said Monday. “I am confident and pray that the [Centre for Child Protection] will make a substantial contribution to this long-term effort.”
Although the center doesn’t have any formal connection with the Vatican, three of the members of the Pontifical Commission are highly committed to it: German Jesuit Hans Zollner and British Baroness Sheila Hollins serve in both organizations.
Asked if the Vatican is backing the project, O’Malley said “yes.”