The conference entitled, “Smascherare ed elaborare,” held in Bolzano October 22nd, covered the topics of abuse, prevention, and protection of vulnerable people in the Church. Gottfried Ugolini, Head of the Diocesan Specialist Service and CCP alumnus, and Maria Sparber, Head of the Independent Desk, stressed that the conference aims to strengthen and expand responsibility for dealing with cases of abuse and to intensify the task of prevention.
Concrete measures for safeguarding and valuable information were provided by four speakers: Waltraud Klasnic, the safeguarding officer for the protection of victims of abuse and violence in the Austrian Church; Gregor Beilhack, Director of the Benedictine College of Ettal, and Robert Köhler, expert in the process of accompanying victims of abuse; Anna Deodato, member of the Presidential Council of the National Service for the Protection of Minors of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
“Listening to and wanting to make a real cultural change will lead to a more transparent, responsible and effective pastoral action. And the Pope asks to apply parameters that have the value of norms, and not only of guidelines”, said Deodato. The whole Church must feel committed to vigilance, activate prevention programs, collaborate with the judicial authority of the State, review lines of formation for each group and association within it, lines more appropriate for those preparing for the priesthood.
Bishop Ivo Muser recalled that “confrontation and conscious listening to painful and terrible experiences help you to talk about people, and not cases. In order never to pull the plug, in order not to archive, concrete steps are needed: “For me the greatest challenge is prevention. We have to do everything that is humanly possible, to network with the various actors on the psychological, spiritual, and theological levels, with the institutions, and raise awareness among those who have responsibilities in the Church,” concluded the bishop. Among the next steps, Ugolini announced the plan for a diocesan study on the subject of abuse to gather comments and suggestions, understand risk factors, and then put in place protective measures.