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BY Edward Pentin
A major Vatican conference on combating sexual abuse will be held next year at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on the theme “Towards healing and renewal - a global response to the problem of sexual abuse, and the protection of the vulnerable”.
The Vatican says the symposium will be important in helping “bishops and religious superiors adequately respond to requests to bishops’ conferences made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to prepare effective directives and pastoral plans on the theme of sexual abuse.”
The conference, which will be supported by various Vatican dicasteries, will bring together experts from some of the world’s great academic institutions. It’s due to take place in February 2012.
More details are expected to be revealed on Saturday by the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, and the Promoter of Justice (the Vatican’s “Attorney General”) at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna.
The press conference will also be attended by, among others, Father Francois Xavier Dumortier, Rector of the Gregorian, Father Hans Zollner, Dean of the Institute of Psychology and Head of the Preparatory Committee of the symposium, Baroness Sheila Hollins, professor of psychiatry at St. George’s University London, and Msgr. Klaus Peter Franzl, the Archdiocese of Monaco of Bavaria.
Experts from the Virtus program, a U.S. body developed by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group to combat sexual abuse of children in the Church, are expected to lead workshops in 4 languages, together with other experts in the field. Participants will hear from psychologists, pastoral staff, lawyers, theologians and representatives from diverse regions of the world.
The Vatican says that among the objectives of the conference is to build “a new center of multilingual e-learning, available to Church leaders, for the information and dissemination of resources and best practices to respond to the problem.”