Centre for Child Protection

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Centre for Child Protection (CCP)
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic
Academic affiliation
Pontifical Gregorian University, Institute of Psychology
PresidentFr. Prof. Dr. Hans Zollner, SJ
Via del Seminario, 120

The Centre for Child Protection (CCP) was launched in Munich in January 2012 by the Institute of Psychology of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising and the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the State University Clinic of Ulm. The founding of the CCP was part of a global initiative for the prevention of sexual abuse of minors. After successful completion of the pilot phase at the end of 2014, the CCP relocated its headquarters to Rome in January 2015. The CCP is part of the academic structure of the Pontifical Gregorian University as part of the Institute of Psychology. It closely collaborates with the Faculties of Theology, Canon Law, and Social Sciences. A main task of the institution is the creation of a global e-learning training centre for pastoral professions responding to the sexual abuse of minors, taking into account multilingual and intercultural issues.[1]


The CCP is dedicated to the safeguarding and well-being of minors throughout the world by promoting prevention measures against sexual and other kinds of abuse and by raising awareness and knowledge of the importance of such efforts in order to create a healthy environment. The CCP works from the position that safeguarding the dignity of every human person, especially the well-being of children and vulnerable persons, is the responsibility of everyone. Support for co-responsibility is also expressed by the Catholic magisterium. Pope John Paul II, in relation to preserving and promoting human life, says: 'It remains a sacred reality entrusted to us, to be preserved with a sense of responsibility and brought to perfection in love and in the gift of ourselves to God and to our brothers and sisters.'[2]

As a global institution affected by sexual abuse, the Catholic Church has clearly recognized the significance of this matter. Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged it, saying that 'the power of evil penetrated so far into the interior world of the faith is a suffering that we must bear, but at the same time, we must do everything to prevent it from repeating.'[3] The CCP is among the decisive responses of the Catholic Church to acknowledge, respond to, and prevent abuse.[4]

Pope Francis follows in this line saying: 'This is a tragedy. We must not tolerate the abuse of minors. We must defend minors. And we must severely punish the abusers.' [5]

Recognizing that pastoral caregivers are often first contact persons for victims, the CCP is committed to the training and education of priests and candidates for the priesthood, religious orders, Church workers, teachers, and social workers, raising awareness and offering training for a competent response. Educating clergy, religious, and other pastoral caregivers is a first resource to improve the environment of Catholic parishes, schools, homes, etc. in order that the Church may be a place of shelter and help for sexually abused persons.


Origins of a Response[edit]

It is clear from different reports that the violence against children is very substantial and a serious global problem. It occurs in every country in the world in a variety of forms and settings and is often deeply rooted in cultural, economic, and social practices.[6][7][8][9][10] In recent decades, a large number of cases of clerical abuse of minors have been made known in the United States, Ireland, Australia, and other parts of the world. They have received significant media and public attention. The Church feels responsible for its members’ dehumanising acts, and Pope Benedict XVI initiated a serious process to deal with this problem. Recently, Pope Francis issued an unusual public apology for scandals that have afflicted the Church. In the light of these unfortunate events, there has been a renewed attempt on the part of the Church to look into the matter with due attention and to take corrective steps. Since his election, Pope Francis has taken a firm stand to offer new hope to victims, with a call for action concerning sexual abuse in the Church. The Catholic Church has established two institutions that support the Church in her actions against sexual abuse, namely the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (2014) and the Centre for Child Protection in Rome (2015). The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has the role of assisting and advising the Pope in matters of justice for abuse victims, survivors of sexual abuse, and matters regarding safeguarding. It strives to pull together the best practices and policies from different parts of the world and to provide guidelines. It also aims to achieve two major objectives, namely connecting people worldwide and raising consciousness amongst all of society.

Beginnings of the CCP[edit]

The idea for the foundation of the CCP came in 2011, when Fr Hans Zollner SJ (Dean of the Institute of Psychology of the Pontifical Gregorian University) and Prof. Jörg M. Fegert (Director of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the State University Clinic of Ulm) met during a working group meeting for the German Federal Government's Round Table on Child Sexual Abuse (initiated in response to the 2010 media storm spotlighting clerical sexual abuse in Germany). At the same time, the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising learned about the idea and pledged to support it. Even from the outset, the project was understood to be a long-term response of ongoing education in the safeguarding of minors. It was decided to have a three-year pilot phase (January 2012 - December 2014) based in Munich with a steering committee consisting of Fr Hans Zollner SJ, Prof. Jörg M. Fegert, and Msgr Klaus Peter Franzl for the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. The Centre launched its work with a Symposium 'Towards Healing and Renewal' that was organized from 6 to 9 February 2012 at the Gregorian University in Rome. During the pilot phase, two major conferences were organized to raise awareness about the work of the CCP in safeguarding, to study the situation, and to present the state of the question in the Catholic Church. The first conference took place in Freising, from 30 October to 1 November 2012, entitled 'Communication and Empowerment: Victims of Child Sexual Abuse'. The second conference (7-8 November 2013) was held in Munich on the topic 'Learning from the Past: Implications for the Future'.

The primary project of the CCP during this phase was the development of a multilingual online education programme on the prevention of child sexual abuse for pastoral professions in connection with eleven partners in ten countries.[11] In 2014 it was decided to move the headquarters of the Centre to Rome. A closing event was held in Munich on 26 November 2014.[12]

The CCP in Rome[edit]

In January 2015 the CCP moved to Rome, expanded its network, and took on new educational projects and research activities. On 16 February 2015 the CCP was officially launched in Rome. Cardinal Gehard Ludwig Müller and other representatives of the Holy See attended, and Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley read out a letter of thanks and encouragement from Pope Francis.[13]

Structure and Organization[edit]

The CCP is part of the Institute of Psychology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. It is chaired by the President of the Institute of Psychology, Fr Prof. Dr Hans Zollner SJ. An international and interdisciplinary team staffs the office. A Scientific Advisory Board accompanies the development as well as the activities of the Centre. It consists of international ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical experts in research and practice. The present members are Prof. Sheila the Baroness Hollins (Chair), Msgr Dr Peter Beer, Prof. Dr Delphine Collin-Vezina, Prof. Dr Gabriel Dy-Liacco, and Msgr Dr Stephen Rossetti.


The first mission of the CCP is to safeguard the dignity of minors, educating to protect them from all kinds of abuses and any attempt to violate their integrity, both within the Catholic Church and in society. To this end, the Centre has undertaken numerous activities, giving emphasis to research as well as academic formation and training. It has developed an e-learning programme, adjusted to the respective cultural, linguistic, and legal situations of diverse international contexts. The Centre works in interdisciplinary research projects concerning safeguarding minors. It collaborates with an international academic network as well as with doctoral students in various fields (Psychology, Theology, Spirituality, Canon Law, Social Sciences, etc.).

Initiatives include:

Training and Education[edit]

The two main projects of the CCP are: the development of an e-learning programme and the implementation of an intensive face-to-face course (Diploma Course).

E-Learning: 'Safeguarding: Our Commitment, a Programme for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Minors'[edit]

The CCP offers multilingual and multicultural e-learning training and qualification on different levels of expertise (academic and non-academic levels) for pastoral professions, Church leaders, social workers, teachers, and also for university students. This web-based, certified education and training programme is offered in five languages (English, Italian, German, French, and Spanish). It provides learning modules, which can be adapted worldwide to meet contextual needs. The Centre has partners in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, and Uruguay.

Diploma Course[edit]

The Diploma Course aims at training people involved in the field of safeguarding such as safeguarding officers, advisors, and collaborators in different places like dioceses, religious congregations, and educational institutions. It also provides training for those who will be future trainers in the field of safeguarding in seminaries, formation houses, schools, etc. The Centre completed the first session of its Diploma Course on 14 June 2016 with the participation of 19 students from 15 countries and 4 continents. At the commencement ceremony, the German government's independent commissioner on child sexual abuse, Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, gave the keynote address.[14]

Research and Scientific Publications[edit]

The CCP has set up a research centre that is oriented towards two major fields of study, mapping the situation of child abuse in different parts of the world and human formation in seminary formation. The Centre has published many scientific works:


The Centre both organizes and participates in international conferences and symposiums. Most notably the Symposium 'Towards Healing and Renewal' was organized 6 – 9 February 2012 at the Gregorian University in Rome, attended by approximately 220 people: 91 bishops, 80 priests, 15 female religious, and lay men and women with related experience (victims, psychotherapists, lawyers, etc.). Since 2015 the CCP has hosted and co-organized Anglophone Safeguarding Conferences. In 2017 there will be an important Symposium on 'Child Dignity in the Digital World'.


  1. ^ Zollner, H.; Liebhardt, H.; Fuchs, K. A. (2013). "The "Centre for Child Protection" of the Gregorian University/Rome. First experiences, results and reflections in setting up a global e-learning program for the prevention of sexual abuse of minors". Revista de Psicología. 9 (18).
  2. ^ Pope John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-12. Retrieved 2015-02-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ CBC News, Former pope Benedict defends sex-abuse record: http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/world/story/1.1866637
  4. ^ http://www.thetablet.co.uk/features/2/9324/q-a-with-hans-zollner-sj Q and A with Hans Zollner
  5. ^ Francis rails against child sexual abuse, saying abusers must be 'severely' punished: https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/francis-rails-against-child-sexual-abuse-saying-abusers-must-be-severely-punished
  6. ^ World Report on Violence Against Children, UNICEF: http://www.unicef.org/violencestudy/I.%20World%20Report%20on%20Violence%20against%20Children.pdf
  7. ^ Prevalence of Sexual Violence Against Children and Use of Social Services — Seven Countries, 2007–2013, CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6421a1.htm?s_cid=mm6421a1_w
  8. ^ Child Abuse Statistics & Facts, Child Help: https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse-statistics/
  9. ^ The State of World’s Children 2005- Childhood Under Treat, UNICEF: http://www.unicef.org/sowc05/english/sowc05.pdf
  10. ^ Independent, UN Report Uncovers Global Child Abuse : https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/un-report-uncovers-global-child-abuse-419700.html
  11. ^ Böhm, B., Fegert, J. M., Zollner, H., Fuchs, K. A. & Witte, S. (2015). Internationales ELearning Curriculum „Prävention von sexuellem Kindesmissbrauch für pastoraleBerufe“. Forschungsergebnisse zu Zufriedenheit, Qualität und Passung. Nervenheilkunde, 34, 547-554
  12. ^ "Zentrum für Kinderschutz".
  13. ^ Arocho Esteves, Junno (February 17, 2015). "Pontifical Gregorian University Inaugurates Centre for Child Protection".
  14. ^ Schnieble, Ann (Jun 14, 2016). "Pope greets graduates of Rome course on protecting minors from abuse". Retrieved October 12, 2016.

External links[edit]