Catholic World News

Vatican abuse commission member: US response cannot be imposed on rest of world

March 26, 2014

The Church’s response to the sexual abuse of minors must take into account the varied cultures of different nations, a member of the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said in an interview with John Allen of the Boston Globe.

“I find there’s a common mistake in a lot of American statements in presupposing that the American legal system applies in all parts of the world, which simply isn’t true,” said Father Hans Zollner, a German Jesuit who serves as chairman of the steering committee of the Center for Child Protection of the Institute of Psychology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

“To take an example, I read again and again in a lot of American commentary that there should be an absolute duty to report charges of abuse to the police,” he continued. “The fact is, that requirement doesn’t exist in more than half the countries of the world, and there can be good reasons why not. In Germany, the former Minister of Justice suggested such a requirement and was opposed by both victims of abuse as well as organizations of psychotherapists, who were concerned not only about protecting confidentiality but also the risk of re-traumatization. We have to listen to what the victims think, rather than imposing our solutions.”

Father Zollner added that “from my point of view, it’s clear that this commission is not a legislative body and won’t take away authority from any existing Vatican department. It’s meant to assist the work of the Holy See and to foster discussions in various parts of the world.”

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Mar. 26, 2014 9:19 PM ET USA

    Also: Not all police forces around the world are like Scotland Yard. Does it make sense AUTOMATICALLY to call in the local police force in China, in Russia, in some 3rd world dictatorship?

  • Posted by: Defender - Mar. 26, 2014 10:35 AM ET USA

    Questioning the legal system of the U.S.? This is the same system that has ignored laws on the books and condoned SSM, NSA spying on its own citizens and a president to do what he wants. What could possibly be wrong with that?

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Mar. 26, 2014 7:22 AM ET USA

    This interview makes me uneasy. What Zollner says may be all true, but the notion that perhaps the Church can handle homosexual abuse "in house" has been tried everywhere and failed....everywhere.