CNS photo/Paul Haring
By Drew Dillingham
Catholic News Service
(First in a series)
ROME — Since the 16th century, 16 popes have been students at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. I will never be the 17th — just ask my wife.
Instead, I am attending one of the oldest universities in the Eternal City as an American Catholic layperson to learn how to more effectively protect children from sexual abuse and better respond to the needs of victims and survivors.
Drew Dillingham from the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection at the USCCB taking a look at his new neighborhood in Rome. (CNS photo courtesy of D. Dillingham).
After praying multiple never-failing “Flying Novenas” to ensure my wife and I were speedily granted visas by the Italian Embassy, I have finally made it to my flat in the local, non-touristy neighborhood known as Monti. Monti is less than a mile from the Colosseum as well as from the university. I highly recommend this neighborhood for those looking to escape huge crowds of tourists and find a little peace and quiet.
The Gregorian University’s 12-week interdisciplinary program for a diploma in safeguarding minors is offered through its Center for Child Protection. The curriculum is designed to equip me and the other dozen or so priests, religious and laypeople enrolled in the course with the tools to confront the issue of clergy sexual abuse through multiple lenses, including psychology, social sciences, theology and canon law. From now through June, I will be with international students learning from experts in a number of fields and discussing how we can strengthen the church’s efforts to prevent and respond to this grave sin.
Of course while there is still much to improve upon, dioceses in the United States have accomplished a great deal since the sex abuse scandals rocked the church in 2002. Through this course, it is my hope (and the bishops’) to share the experiences of U.S. dioceses, both our success and failures, with other students from dioceses around the world. I also expect to learn much from them. This dialogue will prove to strengthen the entire church’s approach to child protection and victim assistance.
Abuse is prevalent in all communities. It is our duty as a church to never again fail in our own sacred responsibility to carry out Christ’s call to protect the most vulnerable (Read More)