He said that from what he's seen, the results of the diploma course have been largely positive, which is significant given the challenge of having people come together from various cultures with different attitudes in terms of talking about about child sexual abuse.
But despite the challenges, Zollner said "we have seen a transformation in a good number of them. I have been at the beginning and end of the semester with them and you see the difference not only in language, not only in how they use words, but in the whole attitude, how they talk about survivors of abuse."
"It's not anything threatening, anything disturbing, sort of difficult to talk about, it is, but now they have the capacity to really empathize, to be compassionate, to really do what they will be asked to do, which is to accompany victims and do whatever they need to do so that abuse is prevented."
This year there were 18 graduates of the diploma course, which was coordinated by Prof. Dr. Karlijn Demasure, executive director of the CCP, and Dr. Katharina A. Fuchs. Diplomas were awarded by the Institute of Psychology of the Pontifical Gregorian University, which founded the CCP in 2012.
Students who received their diploma came from all over the world, including countries such as Czech Republic, Ghana, India, Japan, Lebanon, Mozambique, Nigeria, Slovakia, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand and the United States.
One of the graduates, Sr. Perpetua of the Congregation of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, who comes from the Bukoba diocese of Tanzania, told CNA that she signed up for the course "because there is a need to create awareness in my country because people are not aware about child sexual abuse."
She said she feels "empowered" after taking the course, and that when she returns to her diocese, "I'll create awareness by education, by educating the children at the school, at universities, parents and society at large."
Similarly, Perla Freed, Director of the Safe Environment program for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, said "people don't want to talk about child sexual abuse because it's not a happy subject," but she enrolled in the course because she wanted "more of an awareness of this problem and how to confront it."
Not having background in topics such as theology or canon law, Freed said getting formation in these areas was "a very good model" to follow in studying the various aspects of abuse and prevention.
She said she is looking forward to returning to her diocese where she can implement what she's learned, specifically in terms of prevention and victim assistance.
When it comes to abuse, "every case is heartbreaking and shouldn't happen," she said, but stressed that the Catholic Church "is making a lot of efforts to ensure that those people are taken care of."
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"I think the Catholic Church, in the U.S. and in other countries, is an example of what everybody should be doing on child safeguarding all over the world," she said. "We have the programs for schools, we have the training for adults working with those children and young people, so we're an example of what other public schools systems and other organizations working with youth should follow."
In his comments to CNA, Zollner said the model of the course has been replicated by other entities throughout the world, including in Manila and in Mexico City, as well as in other institutions at the university.