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Top-down turned around: Child protection goes global from the ground up


Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, president of the Center for Child Protection, speaks in early February at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome during a news conference officially launching the Center for Child Protection in Rome. At right is Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, who heads the Pontifical Commission for Child Protection. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Some parts of the world see swift attention paid to victims of sexual abuse and others still experience delays or a mishandling of allegations.

This imbalance, one Jesuit expert has said, reflects how years of papal pleas and Vatican mandates have not been received or implemented consistently everywhere.

Because the church's typical top-down approach in getting the message out may not be enough, Jesuit Father Hans Zollner is spearheading a complementary course: a global alliance built and grown from the ground up by individual priests, religious and laity along withCatholic universities, religious orders and bishops' conferences.

Father Zollner, president of the Center for Child Protection at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, told Catholic News Service in late December of the center's plan tolaunch the new alliance in the comingmonths.

The center offers a specialized e-learning program and an on-site diploma course in safeguarding minors. What makes the program's graduates unique is they then use their new skills and local knowledge to train and educate others "back home" on a local, diocesan and even national level.

"It's snowballing," the Jesuit priest said, in a way that the church doesn't normally work.

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