The meeting in the Vatican on the protection of minors in the Church


The role of two Jesuits

Last September, at the end of a Council of Cardinals, Pope Francis announced his intention to hold a special meeting in the Vatican from February 21-24, 2019. A direct response by the Holy Father to allegations and revelations of abuses committed by members of the clergy, the meeting was dedicated to “The Protection of Minors in the Church.” Invited were all the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences, brought together to address this most urgent of subjects.

Along with the various Cardinals, Bishops and other officials called upon to serve the meeting, Father General Arturo Sosa was invited to participate as President of the Union of General Superiors (USG). Additionally, two Jesuits were chosen by the Holy Father to exercise specific central functions for the gathering. Hans Zollner, academic vice-rector of the Gregorian University and member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and Fr. Federico Lombardi, former Director of Vatican Radio and spokesperson for the Holy See.

Each one shared with us their thoughts on participating in this symposium.

Jesuit Father Hans Zollner speaks at news conference for official launch of Center for Child Protection in Rome

Hans Zollner:

“Last autumn the Holy Father called to entrust me with the organization of the Meeting for the Protection of Minors in the Church, together with two cardinals and a bishop. We met for the planning of the event, taking particular care in the choice of speakers, the inclusion of testimonies from victims of abuse, the liturgies and the media aspect of the meeting.

Pope Francis knows of the varied work of the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) of the Pontifical Gregorian University, of which I am President, and he knows that as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, I am co-responsible for his working group on the formation of leaders in the Church. So I think the Pope chose me because I know both the history of abuse and the preventive work being done in many parts of the world, and because I have given lectures and workshops on those issues.”


Federico Lombardi:

“The task assigned to me by the Pope for the meeting is to be the “Moderator” of the assembly. This means directing the course of the Meeting at times when all the participants will be together in the Hall. In addition, those responsible for Vatican communication wish for me to participate in the Press Conference and daily Briefings with journalists in the Press Room, as well as to collaborate on the communication plan and the preparation of informational materials.

My involvement in addressing the problem of child sexual abuse and of promoting child protection began when I was Director of the Press Office during the pontificate of Pope Benedict. I have since followed the various crises and responses of the Pope. Over the course of that involvement, I have come to accept that this problem not only has deep roots within the Church, but that it demands engagement from all of us. This situation asks us to face profound challenges: not only the rightful respect of minors and the credibility of the Church, but also for our religious identity, the radicality of our testimony, our vow of chastity in today’s world.

As far as I can, I would like to help the assembly to live seriously but with confidence in this moment; to not be afraid of the attention of the media. I would like them rather to try to help the media, to feel associated with the effort of Pope Francis and the Church for the urgent and necessary service to the children of the world.”

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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