Pandemic Abuse Hans Zollner
VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Elections in the United States, a global pandemic and human rights protests have crowded the news coverage for most of 2020.
But activists and sexual abuse survivors continue to ask that the protection of minors and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church and elsewhere remain a priority despite losing momentum, as risks of online and domestic abuse grow globally.
“It became pretty clear to us very early on that the attention given to safeguarding and protecting the dignity and safety of children, and vulnerable people in general, moved out of the center of attention for many people and for many institutions,” said the Rev. Hans Zollner, a Vatican official spearheading the fight against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, in an interview with Religion News Service on Wednesday (Aug. 26).
Zollner heads the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Centre for Child Protection and is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, created by Pope Francis in 2014.
As the pandemic triggered global lockdowns, forcing citizens to stay at home and avoid crowded events, many young people and vulnerable adults found themselves at a heightened risk of suffering physical and psychological abuse.
The largest nonprofit anti-sexual assault organization in the United States, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, or RAINN, announced in a July news release that it received an unprecedented number of reports by minors of sexual abuse this year during the pandemic.