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Leipzig - German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner SJ called for a deeper theological and pastoral reflection of the sexual abuse of minors by catholic priests. "For 35 years in the Church we have only ever dealt with the subject psychologically, psychiatrically, under church law and criminal law - I find this very significant", said the President of the Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Gregorian University during a lecture in Leipzig. "We have made a huge curve around the subject in our hearts - for example, we do not have a liturgy in which victims can express themselves.”

The Jesuit priest, theologian and psychologist said that he observed worldwide that more and more believers have the impression: "The bishops introduce many measures to prevent abuse in their dioceses - but they do it only because of pressure from outside, but not from their heart, not because the gospel demands that from us.” In the discussion in the church he missed the question: "What does God want to tell us with this topic, this scandal", Zollner said. He thinks that the Church must face this theologically more deeply.

The Jesuit described the year 2018 as a "turning point" for the Catholic Church's dealings with abuse: "The perspective is no longer only the individual case, but the system as such is now being put to the test. That is new". Zollner emphasized: "If in 2002 the German bishops had taken an example from the US bishops, which consequences they had drawn from the child abuse scandal in America, the situation in Germany would be different today. Every local church makes the same mistakes instead of learning from others. This is still going on.”

Fr. Hans Zollner SJ is one of the leading experts on sexual abuse working in the Catholic Church. He was one of the four organizers of the Vatican Conference “Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church,” often described more simply as the pope’s “anti-abuse summit”, which took place in February with bishops from all over the world. (www.jesuiten.org)

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