British psychologist urges Church to 'listen' to victims

18th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Renowned British psychiatrist Sheila Hollins on Saturday called on the Roman Catholic Church to truly listen to the victims of paedophile priests, saying cover-ups were doing more damage.

Many victims are "angry at an arrogant Church that refuses to listen", Hollins, who is professor of psychiatry at St George's, University of London, said as the Vatican is preparing a conference on the issue in February.

Hollins will attend the conference accompanied by a woman who as a child was abused by an Irish paedophile priest.

She has spoken to a large number of abused children and called on the Church to "truly listen", warning of "the harm made by secrecy".

The Vatican said Saturday bishops must learn how to prevent and fight child abuse.

"Bishops must be good pastors. When the enemy enters the flock, he must not flee," said Canadian Bishop Charles Scicluna, the "promoter of justice" of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Scicluna is effectively prosecutor of the tribunal of the former Holy Office, whose job it is to investigate crimes committed by a cleric against a person under the age of 18, among others.

Next year's conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome will be attended by up to 200 bishops, experts and heads of religious congegrations.

It will be held three months before a Vatican dateline for the implementation of anti-paedophile rules that will take into account national laws.

"We have decided to face the truth. Truth sets us free, as Christ said," said Scicluna.

He insisted that "the protection of children is part and parcel of the Church's common good".

February's conference is to insist on the need to better educate clerics, families and children, taking into account legal definitions of paedophilia and the latest results in psychological research, so that threats to the child can be detected early.

© 2011 AFP

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