The institute’s English diploma and English licentiate programs are already filling up for the fall semester.
The priest said it was difficult to generalize about the state of child protection in the Church, since the situation in each country is so different. But he commented that the Church in most countries “does a lot and is really forward in prevention and safeguarding work.”
Where it is most difficult to make progress is in countries that do not have the juridical systems in place to properly investigate and prosecute crimes of sexual abuse, he explained.
But in some areas, the expert said, the Church has a lot of room to improve.
“The Church unfortunately has lagged behind in really owning its responsibility for the crimes of the past,” he observed. “And there we really need to accept this responsibility and to own it, because otherwise all the efforts for safeguarding will be jeopardized.”
He said that the Institute of Anthropology’s educational and research program “is not something that is supposed to immediately change everything in every country in this world.” But he said that “any kind of education aims at preparing people who then take responsibility and grow into professional roles and do what they’re supposed to do in the field over time.”
“Our effort has been since the beginning -- almost 10 years ago, the beginning of the CCP -- to help the local churches and the religious congregations to learn that [safeguarding] is part and parcel of the Church’s mission and that it is not something that you can sort of have or don’t have. It is something essential for the mission,” he said.
Zollner added that “more and more people in the Church, especially from the bottom up, understand that you cannot deny the reality of the abuse that has happened, and that we need to invest consistently in safeguarding, because the Church is supposed to be the Church of Jesus Christ, who identifies with the most vulnerable ones: the poor and the sick and also those who have been abused or are in danger of being abused.”
The Catholic Church does a lot of good work with migrants and with the poor and homeless, he said, “and I don’t see the same engagement also on a natural, normal, and -- let’s say -- emotionally engaged level with the abused and with those we need to protect.”
“And this is something we aim at, a change of mentality,” he said.