Safeguarding expert to lead Rome’s new anthropology institute

Fr Hans Zollner Credit Rebecski CC 40 CNA Fr. Hans Zollner./ Rebecski CC 4.0

Safeguarding expert Fr. Hans Zollner S.J. will serve as the director of a new anthropology institute succeeding the Center for Child Protection in Rome.

The Pontifical Gregorian University announced Zollner’s appointment on July 1, two months after it said that the center would be transformed from a diploma program into an institute of anthropology, with its own faculty, and offering licentiates and doctorates.

The 54-year-old German Jesuit priest will begin a three-year term as director of the Institute of Anthropology: Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care (IADC) on Sept. 1.

The appointment was confirmed by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education and approved by Jesuit Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa, the university’s vice chancellor.

Zollner has served as president of the Center for Child Protection since 2015. A member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, he is a licensed psychologist and psychotherapist.

The center was launched in 2012 to provide internet-based training to Catholics anywhere in the world on the protection of children from sexual abuse.

It was initially established in Germany by the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, and the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the State University Clinic of Ulm.

The center was officially launched in Rome in February 2015. In 2016, it began offering a one semester-long diploma course of 30 credits in the protection of minors through the university’s Institute of Psychology.

With the change to an institute, the IADC will offer the degrees of a licentiate in safeguarding and a doctorate in anthropology.

Zollner told CNA in April that the change would create an academic entity in its own right, no longer dependent on other universities to award degrees or lend professors.

“And equally important is that the name has changed,” he said, noting that the center could not continue to have only “child protection” in its name, “because the world and the Church have moved on from child protection only to other forms of abuse which need protection and safeguarding.”

He stressed that the institute’s primary focus would still be the protection of children from sexual abuse within the institutions of the Catholic Church, but choosing anthropology as the basis of the program offered “the broadest possible scope.”

“We have seen over the years that sexual abuse, sexual violence, is a human problem,” he said.

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