Three Australian victims of clergy sexual abuse who have been in Rome this week for the Cardinal George Pell hearings (see CV Comment) have met with a senior member of the Pontifical Commission for Minors, the Commission said today.
Fr. Hans Zollner SJ (centre, above), who heads the Centre for Child Protection at the Gregorian University, and is a founder member of the Commission, met with David Ridsdale, Andrew Collins and Peter Blenkiron, who are survivors of clergy sexual abuse from Cardinal Pell’s former diocese of Ballarat, Australia.
The meeting was arranged by Cardinal Pell after the survivors asked to discuss with the Commission ideas for healing and how better to protect young people from abuse.
“We know this problem had been wider than the Catholic Church but our experiences have been in this environment,” they told the Commission, adding: “We are keen to develop links with your group as it is a world-wide issue.”
Fr. Zollner said he appreciated both their concerns and their proposals, which he said he will take back to the other commission members.
During the meeting, Fr Zollner explained the purpose of the Commission and spoke about his work and initiatives in preventing abuse within and outside the Church.
The survivors from Ballarat also also met with some of the students on the Diploma-programme in Safeguarding of Minors now being offered at the Gregorian University — the first of its kind in Rome.
The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was created by Pope Francis in March 2014.
“The Commission’s specific task is to propose to me the most opportune initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults, in order that we may do everything possible to ensure that crimes such as those which have occurred are no longer repeated in the Church,” Pope Francis wrote in the document establishing the Commission. “The Commission is to promote local responsibility in the particular Churches, uniting their efforts to those of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the protection of all children and vulnerable adults.”