On 26th February 2018, Rev. Fr. Hans Zollner SJ, Vice-Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, addressed the St. Pius X Community on the issue of Protection of Minors. Fr. Zollner, a German Theologian, Psychologist, and Consultor of Congregation of the Clergy, is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) since 2014.
Fr. Zollner, who on the mission assigned to him by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, travels around the world discussing the issue of protection of minors. He believes that the protection of minors has to be an integral part of the mission of the Catholic Church.
During his session he highlighted two points:
1. Listen: We need to 'listen to victims of abuse'. We as Church, as a mother, cannot ignore victims of abuse. Pious platitudes to victims won’t do. We need to listen with our mind, heart and soul, and act.
2. Do whatever you can to protect children: Ensure that there are safeguarding policies in place. Safeguarding should be an integral part of mission: education, social and pastoral. Open your eyes and ears to signs of abuse, like children becoming aloof and depressed.
Fr. Zollner, in trying to expound on these two points stressed the need to re-evaluate Human Formation in our Seminaries. Within the core aspects of Human Formation, he mentioned that we as pastors and seminarians need to discover our identity and understand the vocation and calling from God. There is a grave need to grow in maturity both at Human and Spiritual level. He also proposed that the formation be more attuned to the pastoral realities within the diocese and the Church at large. Fr. Zollner insisted that in trying to protect minors and vulnerable adults, we must first purify our understanding of sexuality. One of the driving points used by Fr. Zollner was point number 202 from the document, The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, which highlights the need for greatest attention to be given to the protection of minors.
This interesting and challenging session was an eye opener for the St. Pius X community in understanding the realities of our role in protection of minors and vulnerable adults. As pastors this becomes an integral part of our mission as a Church, which must be facilitated with ongoing formation for all seminarians and priests.
Br. Leon Viegas
3rd Year Theology