Toward Healing and Renewal: Sexual Abuse of Minors Held at the Pontifical Gregorian University

Updated: Aug 25

Edited by Charles J. Scicluna, Hans Zollner, and David John Ayotte

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism


The goal of the international symposium “Toward Healing and Renewal” which took place at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on February 6-9, 2012, was to help bishops, religious superiors, and others in position of special responsibility to make an honest examination of conscience, as requested by the Pope, and to be a stimulus to personal and ecclesial renewal. This symposium was intended to be another step in a long and painful journey that the Church has undertaken in order to deal with what Pope Benedict has called the “open wound” of abuse. In his message to the participants of the symposium, communicated through the Secretary of State, the Holy Father encouraged everyone to meet this challenge with a love inspired by the Gospel so as to provide defenseless children, young persons, and adults with the environment that will allow their human and spiritual development to flourish. The Pope also asked all participants to work towards a fuller understanding of the entire situation, so that a culture of effective protection of the young and support for victims can become a reality in the whole Church.

The symposium was not conceived as an isolated event, but as an important step forward. All in the Church will need to foster an attitude of perseverance and of commitment in accepting responsibility for the past and in working together for a better future. The founding of the Centre for Child Protection of the Institute of Psychology at the Gregorian University can be seen as a further step in building upon the work of the symposium. The Centre based in Munich will develop an e-learning program over a period of three years and provide a learning platform that will be offered on the Internet in several languages. This initiative is meant to serve as an instrument of the prevention of further abuse. In collaboration with its project partners on all continents, the Centre for Child Protection hopes to focus attention on abuse in the Church and in society at large. The organizers of the symposium and the editors of this volume express their hope that this symposium will contribute to greater decisiveness, transparency, and awareness of the responsibility of all in the Catholic Church in dealing with the difficult question of sexual abuse. We trust that the present volume will be a source of inspiration and encouragement on the path to healing and renewal.

Each of the chapters is carefully crafted in regard to the topic. There are scholars from all over the world who have given their time and talent to help understand the healing process. The emphasis on e-learning provides the privacy that is needed. At the beginning, the evaluation of the program, and the granting of certification, as part of the formation of priests, deacons, parish assistants, educators, catechists, volunteers, and other members of the pastoral staff. A local project manager and an expert for “training the trainers” will be selected by each partner to recruit participants locally and to train them in using the e-learning program. E-learning makes it possible to offer information widely and quickly but, in the purely online version, provides limited opportunity for emotional learning. The project will, therefore, include case-based learning about child sexual abuse, both as a stand-alone solution (self-study) and as a blended-learning solution (self-study and classroom learning).


The Catholic Church has the distinct opportunity to become the international model and leader in the protection of children, youth, and vulnerable adults. This Church has been tested repeatedly over the centuries and has endured many severe crises because, in each case, Jesus is the source of its perdurance. The work will be long and sometimes arduous but with a goal that is both attainable and fulfilling. It is a difficult book to read because of its content but one that helps us to see the many scholars who wish/pray for the resolution of this deep-seated sinfulness and pray for the joy of forgiving and healing that we so desperately need.

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