Catholic Bishops of Italy Release 1st National Report on Protection Activities in the Italian Dioceses with the Latest Statistics
On November 17, the 1st National Report on protection activities in the Italian dioceses promoted by the Italian Bishops' Conference was presented. The initiative, the first for the Italian Church, is the immediate and concrete implementation by the Church in Italy of Pope Francis' request on April 29 to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The Report refers to the two-year period 2020-2021 and is entrusted to the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore - Piacenza campus, chosen not only for its recognized expertise in the field of statistical and sociological research, but for its specific and uncommon experience in the field of guardianship and protection of minors in religious associations
It was presented on November 17, the eve of the II National Day of Prayer for the victims and survivors of abuse, for the protection of minors and vulnerable people, the 1st National Report on protection activities in the Italian dioceses promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference. The initiative, the first for the Italian Church, is the immediate and concrete implementation by the Church in Italy of Pope Francis' request on April 29 to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. “Annually, I would like you to prepare a report on the Church's initiatives for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. This may be difficult at first, but I ask you to start where it will be necessary so that we can provide a reliable report on what is happening and what needs to change, so that the competent authorities can act” (Pope Francis, Address to the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors , 29 April 2022).
The Report on the Services for the protection of minors and vulnerable people and on the Counseling Centers refers to the two-year period 2020-2021: the Regional Services and the diocesan/interdiocesan Services and the Centers, in fact, were set up following the Guidelines for the protection of minors , approved by the Italian bishops in May 2019.
The collection of data and their processing was entrusted to the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart - site of Piacenza, chosen not only for its recognized skills in the field of statistical and sociological research, but for its specific and uncommon experience in the field of protection and protection of minors in religious associations.
The purpose of this survey is to provide a mapping, to verify how they are constituted, the activities they carry out, the strengths and those that will be further consolidated in the training activities, the quality of listening and welcoming the victims, the context of the abuses or in any case of the reported facts.
The study of the data that emerges will make it possible to increase the effectiveness of the training and reception service for victims.
During the General Assembly of May 2022, the Italian bishops, with the five lines of action for a more effective prevention of the phenomenon of abuse of minors and vulnerable people, made explicit their commitment to ensure that the phenomenon of abuse is contrasted, promoting safe environments tailored to the smallest and most vulnerable. Among other things, the CEI participates as a permanent guest in the Observatory for the fight against pedophilia and child pornography, established by law 269/1998.
In addition to prosecuting these crimes without hesitation and with the utmost severity, it is necessary to consolidate a culture of child protection that moves from protecting minors as a reaction to the crime and awareness of the damage caused ( child protection ) to pro-active action aimed at building environments that promote and safeguard their dignity and relational good ( child safeguarding ).
The Church, which for centuries and with generosity of people and institutions has taken care of the little ones, wants to spend itself on this front with the utmost commitment through a gigantic training effort that involves all pastoral workers and ecclesial communities.
Furthermore, one of the five lines of action approved by the 76th General Assembly concerns the commitment to implement the establishment of counseling centres: an ecclesial and pastoral service with the aim of welcoming, listening, accompanying those who believe they have been victims of abuse in the ecclesial sphere, which also occurred in the past, and who want to deliver the story of their suffering, report the abuse suffered and who was responsible for it.
They are currently present in 70% of Italian dioceses.
There is no total coverage of the dioceses since some are very small and it is not easy to find people willing to carry out the delicate pastoral service of welcoming and listening. On the other hand, in small dioceses, where it is easier for everyone to know everyone, victims of abuse or those wishing to report abuse may feel discouraged from turning to the local counseling centre, preferring instead that of a nearby diocese.
Finally, to improve prevention and contrast measures, accompany victims and survivors with more awareness and refine the criteria for other research, at a later stage a quantitative and qualitative analysis will be carried out on the data provided by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith relating to the complaints collected/files opened by the ecclesiastical authority, from 2001 to 2020, regarding crimes against minors, presumed or confirmed, committed by clerics in Italy since the 1950s. (Edited from SIR)
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