Abuse summit ‘should include’ bishops’ accountability

Fr Hans Zollner (ACBC)

A member of the committee organising Pope Francis’ summit next month on the sexual abuse crisis said the meeting should include discussing ways to hold bishops accountable for handling cases correctly. Source: CNS.

Addressing members of the Roman Curia before Christmas, Pope Francis said the February 21-24 meeting of the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches and leaders of religious orders will reaffirm the Church’s “firm resolve to pursue unstintingly a path of purification”.

In addition, he said, with the help of experts, the meeting will examine “how best to protect children, to avoid these tragedies, to bring healing and restoration to the victims, and to improve the training imparted in seminaries.”

Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a member of the committee organising the meeting, told Vatican News that in addition to the goals outlined by the Pope, “we want to see how we also can put on the table the question of bishops’ responsibility, so there would be greater clarity about who must do something and who checks if the things the Holy Father and the Church – the dicasteries – have ordered be done are, in effect, done.”

Fr Zollner, president of the Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, said the Pope’s commitment to not undervaluing or covering up any case of abuse will require “a clarification of procedures, which aren’t so clear, especially when we are talking about the co-responsibility of a bishop or a provincial or head of an Eastern church with respect to what others bishops, provincials and superiors are doing.”

And, second, he said, there must be a change of attitude. “The rules, the laws as such, will not change hearts. We see this not only in Europe, but throughout the world. So, we must see how we can reinforce throughout the Church this attitude of openness and attention to the protection of minors because that is the attitude Jesus teaches us.”

Fr Zollner said he hoped the meeting would help everyone in the Church, everywhere in the world, realise “the urgency of making the protection of minors and bringing justice to the victims a priority.”

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Abuse expert hopes summit will include bishops’ accountability (CNS)

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