International child safety expert Fr Hans Zollner SJ participated in a conversation session with leaders from across the Jesuit Province this week, explaining that protecting children needs to be ‘part of our identity’.
Fr Zollner is President of the Centre for Child Protection at the Gregorian University, and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. He is currently in Australia meeting with various groups including Catholic ministry leaders and survivors groups.
In a conversation with Province leaders at Xavier College on 27 August, Fr Zollner noted that the Church worldwide had advanced in its willingness to tackle the issue of clerical sexual abuse, particularly in light of revelations from places like Australia.
He commended the Australian Jesuit Province for the Code of Conduct that is currently being finalised for all staff, and its work with the Australian Childhood Foundation to implement best-practice policies and standards across its ministries.
A priority moving forward, he said, was to make safeguarding something ‘part of our identiy, not something that can be discarded’.
‘We need to understand that whenever we speak about something, plan something, build something – an immediate and constant and sustainable thought goes out to what does it mean to people who are vulnerable, especially children’, he said.