Taking reappraisal and prevention seriously

Taking reappraisal and prevention seriously

The Catholic Church should take more responsibility for dealing with abuse cases, says the head of the Child Protection Center CCP in Rome, Hans Zollner. Many factors that could lead to acts are known, he said.

The head of the Child Protection Center CCP in Rome, Hans Zollner, expects church leaders to ame personal responsibility. The church has "a special moral responsibility," the Jesuit said in an interview with the Swiss portal kath.ch (Tuesday).

"If someone has brought guilt upon himself, he or she must also answer for it, just like any politician, any functionary," Zollner said. For many, however, careers are still more important than taking responsibility.

Taking rehabilitation and prevention seriously

The religious accuses the church leadership of "shirking a different attitude"; "we do not admit guilt – but any admission of guilt must be wrested from us; we do not repent – but defend perpetrators and cover-ups. We don't take responsibility – but push around and put our careers and reputations first." Zollner did not comment on specific cases in the interview.

People inside and outside the church "no longer believe that we are serious about reappraisal and prevention," said the member of the papal commission for the protection of minors. "If we don't do what we say here, how are people going to believe what we say about Jesus, salvation, the sacraments?"

Topic will occupy church for a long time

Zollner also expresses fears that Catholic institutions could cut back on abuse prevention as external prere diminishes and finances weaken.

At present, he said, the Catholic Church is "doing well worldwide" in prevention efforts. Whether this is also "anchored in the church system" and already rooted in the long term, he doubted. "Laws do not automatically produce saints," Zollner said. He said the church will have to deal with the ie "for a long time to come".

Sexual violence in all areas of society

The Jesuit stressed: "Wherever power is exercised in an uncontrolled way, there is also sexual violence." The proportions of abuse and "the mechanisms of cover-up" are "very similar" in sports associations, in the film and fashion industries, the military, non-governmental organizations, and also in state schools.

All experts also know that "the greatest proportion of abuse occurs in the family context, perpetrated especially by stepfathers".

Growing loneliness and overwork among priests

Scientific evidence shows that the average age of a priest who abuses children for the first time is 39. That, he said, was some 15 years after he was ordained a priest with a promise of celibacy – and 15 years later than for abusers in other professions.

"So with priests, it takes longer to get to the first offense," Zollner said. The religious cited growing loneliness and overwork as well as too few reliable and good friendships as the main reasons for this. This, he says, is more central than possible pedophilic tendencies.

Authority of the Church

Finally, Zollner diagnoses a "surprisingly chaotic and uncoordinated" exercise of power in the church. Unclear leadership structures favored abuse and its cover-up.

"One always imagines the Catholic Church as a monolithic block, much like the military. But if you look closely, the opposite is true in many areas."There is an "air of authority"; however, this is "often not backed up by personal, structural or professional competence".

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