Institute of Anthropology to broaden understanding of abuse in Catholic Church

abuse in catholic church

The Center for Child Protection (CCP), founded in 2012, is to have a new name with a broader focus on understanding abuse cases in the Catholic Church.

The Institute of Anthropology: Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care (IADC) will open next September at the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.

Its purpose is to facilitate “interdisciplinary studies on human dignity and the care of vulnerable persons.”

The Jesuit-run university’s new institute symbolizes the church’s changed approach to a problem that has widened far beyond the church, says Rev. Hans Zollner, the president of the CCP and a leading figure in the Vatican’s efforts on the issue.

“Since the Center for Child Protection’s establishment nearly a decade ago, we have begun to see new dimensions of abuse scandals,” said Zollner. He is also a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors created by Pope Francis in 2014.

Zollner cited the #MeToo movement and reports of abuse in military organizations, the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations.

In the Catholic Church, Zollner added, there has been a growing number of cases of “spiritual abuse, coercive control and abuse of power” against lay and religious women.

“I firmly believe that these sorts of conversations and networking opportunities will be essential to making real, lasting change happen,” said Zollner. “No one organization, country, religion, culture, etc., can provide all the answers for how to protect and defend all who are at risk of being abused.”

In 2019 Francis issued a series of guidelines and decrees that included vulnerable adults to be protected alongside children.

Removing the focus on children in the name of the Institute of Anthropology “certainly shows our desire to emphasize our commitment to safeguarding all human beings,” Zollner said. He also said it would focus on “recognizing the vast problem of abuse of adults.”


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