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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Vatican summit to create task force to aid bishops in safeguarding

Since the work of child protection must continue after the February meeting at the Vatican on safeguarding, one organiser said they plan on creating a “task force” with teams on every continent.

The task force would be just one of a number of “concrete measures that we want to offer the bishops of the world,” Jesuit Fr Hans Zollner told the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano on 24th January.

“One of our main ideas,” he said, “is that this encounter is another step along a long journey that the Church has begun and that will not end with this meeting,” which will bring presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches and representatives of the leadership groups of men’s and women’s religious orders to the Vatican from 21st to 24th February.

A task force made up of child protection experts “will probably be instituted in the various continents where the Church is present,” and they will travel from place to place, said Fr Zollner, who is a member of the meeting’s four-person organising committee, president of the Centre for the Protection of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

“They will be able to find out about the guidelines that the bishops’ conferences are about to implement, what point they are at in this process and what they may need,” he said.

Picture: Jesuit Fr Hans Zollner, a professor of psychology and president of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, is pictured in a 2015 photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).