Vatican to Launch Online Database, Intl. Conference to Combat Sex Abuse

Posted June 18th, 2011 at 11:50 am (UTC-5)
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The Vatican says it is taking new steps to combat sex abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, including preparations for an online database and an international conference to offer guidance to priests and abuse victims.

At a news conference Saturday, Vatican officials said they will launch a multi-lingual e-learning center to educate Catholic authorities around the world about implementing church guidelines for protecting children. The online center also will provide information to victims of clerical sex abuse.

In another move, the officials said the Vatican will host an international conference of experts on the issue in February at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University. The symposium, titled “Towards healing and renewal,” is aimed at helping church authorities to develop guidelines in dealing with abusers and preventing future cases.

Vatican sex crimes prosecutor Monsignor Charles Scicluna said the measures represent a “credible” response to the abuses, which began emerging in the United States in 2002 and later became apparent throughout Europe.

The Vatican has ordered bishops worldwide to develop comprehensive guidelines for combating sex abuse by next year. U.S. victims' group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests has dismissed the move, saying it lacks any enforcement mechanism or penalties for bishops who violate their own guidelines.

Prominent British psychiatrist Sheila Hollins plans to address the upcoming conference to talk about her involvement in healing programs for sex abuse victims in Ireland and Britain. She will be accompanied by a sex abuse victim. Hollins said Saturday many abused Catholics believe they have been ignored. She said it is important for the church to listen to their stories.