The Vatican is turning to the Internet in its struggle against child abuse with a new website allowing clergy around the world to share information on eradicating the problem.
A key figure behind the initiative is German psychologist priest Hans Zollner from the Vatican’s Gregorian University, who spoke to AFP about the need for fundamental changes in how the Catholic Church handles abuse cases.
“Bishops have to give priority to victims,” said Zollner, a member of the order of Jesuits, often seen as intellectuals inside the Church.
“People working inside dioceses and religious orders should be taught to listen to them. All complaints have to be taken seriously,” he said.
Zollner’s university will host a conference next February at which the new e-learning centre is expected to be launched, with some 200 experts, diocesan officials and representatives of congregations attending.
It will be “a step … on a long and painful path,” Zollner said, adding the website would bring together the latest research on child abuse and Church laws, while allowing churches in different countries to have their say.
The website will be in five languages — English, French, German, Italian and Spanish — and the project is funded to last three years.
The Church is struggling to deal with rising anger and a string of lawsuits following thousands of abuse claims in Europe and the United States.
But many in the Church are concerned that the cases uncovered so far may only be the tip of the iceberg since abuses in much of the developing world — including in Africa and Latin America — have so far received little attention. [more]