As a consequence of the abuse scandal, the Catholic Church establishes a new scientific "Center for the Protection of Children and Young People." An e-learning training program that can be used worldwide is to be developed in Munich.
The program is to be built over the next three years. It will be used to train church employees to prevent attacks against minors. The designated director of the center is Hubert Liebhardt, a child and adolescent psychiatrist from Ulm, Germany. Second goal is to develop a global pastoral concept against abuse in church and society.
This was announced by Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich on Monday. The project is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising and the Pontifical Gregorian University of the Jesuits in Rome. The institution will start its work at the beginning of 2012 at the latest, he said.
Marx said the church is facing up to its responsibility with this project. In addition to coming to terms with attacks that have occurred and caring for the victims, "a new culture of looking" must be established, he said. "The church should be a place of non-violence and love, especially for the small and the weak – indeed, a shelter," the cardinal stressed.
Sustainable learning process
Jesuit Hans Zollner, vice rector of the Gregorian University, said the goal is a sustainable learning process. He said he was very glad that the Munich archdiocese was "remarkably committed to the universal church". Thus, in a first step, 250.000 euros have been made available for the new center. E-learning could reach areas of the world "where there is Internet but no roads," he said, explaining the importance of the project.
The contact with Liebhardt from the University of Ulm came about at a working group of the Round Table in Berlin, said Zollner, who is also a member of this committee. Liebhardt reported that his institute specializes in the development of web-based assistance in the field of child protection.
The new course will be partly computer-based and partly classroom-based, the expert says. Participants could practice their sensitivity in dealing with signs of abuse, among other things, during interactive exercises. Cases re-enacted by actors are another important medium, he said. The first closed trial trainings are to start at the end of next year in cooperation with eight selected partner organizations from different countries and cultures.