“We Must Look at Reality in the Face,” Says Father Hans Zollner


(Note: Prior to the publication of this article on the Mirfield Memories site, approval was sought from the German Jesuit, Father Hans Zollner.  Father Hans  is the President  of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors created by Pope Francis in 2014, is academic vice-rector of the Jesuit-run Gregorian University in Rome and head of its Institute of Psychology.)

The Vatican Radio interview with Father Hans  was published by Zenit.  Zenit  is a non-profit news agency that reports on the Catholic Church and issues important to it from the perspective of Church doctrine. Zenit’s motto is, “The world seen from Rome.”


“We Must Look at Reality in the Face,”  Says Father Hans Zollner

The President of the Center for the Protection of Minors, of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Comments on the “Regensburger Domspatzen” Report

“We must look at reality in the face and we must address all the injustices, sins, crimes that were committed by priests and also other employees of the Church,” stressed Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, president of the Center for the Protection of Minors of the Pontifical Gregorian University, in an interview with Vatican Radio, in which he commented on the publication of the Report on abuses (sexual and non-sexual) in the school of the prestigious choir of “Regensburger Domspatzen” (Sparrows of the Regensburg Cathedral).

“It was the courage of the bishop to throw light on a truly very profound darkness,” stressed Father Zollner. “He gave the task to a lawyer to whom he offered all the possibilities, not only giving access to the files, but also in contacting the victims and speaking with other people involved,” continued the German Jesuit and psychologist, who spoke of “a very well done Report and unobjectionable in its vastness, in its profundity and also in its scientific merit.”

According to Father Zollner, who moreover is a native of Regensburg, the Report constitutes “a very important step, also for the sensitization of the whole society and for all institutions be of the Church, be it outside of the Church.”

The report on the abuses perpetrated on pupils of the school of one of the oldest and most famous choirs of children’s voices in the world was presented yesterday, Tuesday, July 18, 2017, by Ulrich Weber, the outside lawyer and investigator charged by the German diocese in 2015.

From the document, published under the motto ‘Hinsehen, Zuhoren, Antworten” (Look, Listen, Respond) it emerges that from 1945 to the first years of the ‘90s, at least 547 pupils (but the real figure could be even higher) in the choir school of the Cathedral of Regensburg, suffered physical, corporal and psychological violence, and 67 of them were also victims of sexual abuses.

The voluminous report does not even spare the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, who for three decades (from 1964 to 1993) directed the choir, or the former Bishop of Regensburg and former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, for not having grasped the malaise of the young choristers or for not having reacted appropriately.


John Paul Foran

My name is John Paul Foran. I am in Gerry ‘s
Picture of the junior football team. I am
The tallest boy nearest the camera .
My two Easter ‘s spent at Mifriend were the trip to London (Zulu the movie ).The second Easter was Tenby South Wales. If anyone
remembers the ice cream parlour owned by an
Italian gentleman of course. Do you remember
the picture he gave to the young seminarians
on our last day of holiday. Of course Fritz claimed it was given to just him.

The lack of concern for abuse “is generally just as painful for the victims as is sexualised violence by an individual offender”.

The cover ups of sexual abuse  by the Catholic Church and religious orders, and the distress this causes the victims of sexual abuse is a common theme running  through this blog. However, I believe it is worth noting again.



The following paragraphs are taken from an article by Catherine Pepinster

The Catholic abuse scandal is a worldwide one, and has led to disturbing cases being exposed not only in Australia, but also the US, Ireland, Germany and Britain. There are common denominators when it comes to how the church has dealt with cases: the victims are often traduced, the focus is put on the distress of the accused rather than on the victims, and the church strives to cover up the scandal, concerned above all about its own position and standing.

This came through strongly in the Boston sex abuse scandal, highlighted in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, which rocked the strongly Irish-American Catholic city. Then the scandal was exposed by Boston Globe journalists, who discovered a systemic cover-up involving the Catholic church and lawyers. Cardinal Bernard Law was accused of actively participating in the concealing of assaults by paedophile priests. He resigned in 2002 and it has taken the church years in Boston to repair the damage done there, not only by the assaults but by the cover-ups.

As Fr Klaus Mertes, a German Jesuit who has studied the church’s handling of abuse cases, has said, this lack of concern for abuse “is generally just as painful for the victims as is sexualised violence by an individual offender”.

The Corrupt Power of the Catholic Church


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Abuse commission member: We asked pope to create Vatican office to train in responding to survivors

Joshua J. McElwee  |  Mar. 28, 2017

Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner says his group has asked the pontiff to create a new Vatican office to train personnel in how to respond to letters from abuse survivors.

ROME – A member of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse says his group has asked the pontiff to create a new Vatican office to train the city-state’s personnel in how to respond to letters from abuse survivors.

Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told the Italian Catholic channel TV2000 Monday  that Vatican officials need training before they can respond to survivors.

“Many people in the Vatican do not know how to respond because they lack the psychological, theological and juridical background,” said Zollner, who also leads the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Center for Child Protection.

“It takes a complex set of competences and professional abilities,” he said March 27. “We have asked the pope to create an office to train people who can respond, as we must, to people.”

The question of how the Vatican responds to abuse survivors’ letters has been raised this month following Marie Collins March 1 resignation as a member of the pontifical commission.

Collins, an Irish abuse survivor, said her decision to resign was immediately precipitated by one Vatican office’s refusal to comply with a request from the commission, approved by the pope, that all letters sent to the Vatican by abuse survivors receive a response.

Zollner spoke March 27 following the commission’s meeting in Rome March 24-26.

“People who write to the Holy See expect a confirmation that their letters or emails have been read,” said the Jesuit. “It is a reasonable and human desire that clashes with the reality of an office that is very often limited in its human and linguistic resources.”

“Our request to the Holy See is that there might be someone able to respond adequately and that this might give a concrete and serious sign,” he said. “The most important thing is that people have the perception that they have been heard.”



In Blunt Talk At The Vatican, Sister Simone Campbell Blasts ‘Male Power’ – (Edited by Brian Mark Hennessy}

In Blunt Talk At The Vatican, Sister Simone Campbell Blasts ‘Male Power’

By Josephine McKenna – for Religion News Service – March 7, 2017

(Edited by Brian Mark Hennessy}

(Referring to Marie Collins, who recently resigned from the panel appointed by Pope Francis to look into allegations of past Vatican obstruction of child sex abuse investigations, Campbell said: “Blocked by men – Isn’t this the real problem within the church?”)

The U.S. nun, Catholic activist Sister Simone Campbell, leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign that toured America during the recent election cycles, spoke frankly in an interview ahead of a conference being held at the Vatican on Wednesday (March 8) to celebrate women’s contributions to peace.

Sister Simone suggested that senior clergy at the Vatican are more preoccupied with power than confronting issues, like clerical sexual abuse, that affect the faithful. “The institution and the structure is frightened of change,” Campbell told ‘Religion News Service’. “These men worry more about the form and the institution than about real people.”

Referring to Marie Collins, who last week resigned from the panel appointed by Pope Francis to look into allegations of past Vatican obstruction of child sex abuse investigations, Campbell said: “Blocked by men. Isn’t this the real problem within the Church? The effort to keep the church from stopping this sort of thing is shocking,” she added. “It is about male power and male image, not people’s stories. The real trouble is they have defined their power as spiritual leadership and they don’t have a clue about spiritual life.”.

This is the fourth consecutive year that women gather at the heart of the Vatican – timed to coincide with the U.N.-sponsored International Women’s Day. Campbell said she was shocked, and also moved, to have been included on the guest list for the Vatican conference. She was among the American nuns targeted in the controversial investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious that was authorized in 2012 under then-Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican investigators charged that the American sisters were straying too far from traditional doctrines, but Pope Francis, who was elected in 2013, put an end to the investigation in 2015.

No Vatican officials are scheduled to speak at the conference, which has drawn leaders and activists from around the world. Campbell noted that senior members of the Curia, or Vatican administration, were at a spiritual retreat outside Rome all this week and so unable to attend the women’s conference. “I don’t know if it’s a slap in the face or evidence of how much power they think we have,” she said. “Most of the guys who run this place haven’t dealt with an ordinary human being who’s been abused, an ordinary woman or a boy who has been abused,” she said. “If you don’t deal with the people you don’t have your heart broken open. The bureaucracy is so afraid of having their heart broken that they hide.”

Campbell heads Network, a social justice organization currently lobbying U.S. legislators in both houses of Congress to protect and maintain affordable health care. She acknowledged the church was changing but said it was “outrageous” that it was failing to respond to the sex abuse crisis more effectively. While noting that Francis was seeking to create a more inclusive church, Campbell expressed concern about the church hierarchy and their response to clerical abuse.

The Catholic Church Is ‘Shocked’ At The Hundreds Of Children Buried At Tuam. Really?

The Catholic Church Is ‘Shocked’ At The Hundreds Of Children Buried At Tuam. Really?

By: Emer O’Toole

Reporting in The International Guardian – Tuesday 7 March 2017


It has been confirmed that significant numbers of children’s remains lie in a mass grave adjacent to a former home for unmarried mothers run by the Bon Secours Sisters in Tuam, County Galway. This is exactly where local historian Catherine Corless, who was instrumental in bringing the mass grave to light, said they would be. A state-established commission of inquiry into mother and baby homes recently located the site in a structure that “appears to be related to the treatment/containment of sewage and/or waste water”, but which we are not supposed to call a septic tank.

The archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary, says he is “deeply shocked and horrified”. Deeply. Because what could the church have known about the abuse of children in its instutions? When Irish taoiseach Enda Kenny was asked if he was similarly shocked, he answered: “Absolutely. To think you pass by the location on so many occasions over the years.” To think. Because what would Kenny, in Irish politics since the 70s, know about state-funded, church-perpetrated abuse of women and children? Even the commission of inquiry – already under critique by the UN – said in its official statement that it was “shocked by this discovery”.

If I am shocked, it is by the pretence of so much shock. When Corless discovered death certificates for 796 children at the home between 1925 and 1961 but burial records for only two, it was clear that hundreds of bodies existed somewhere. They did not, after all, ascend into heaven like the virgin mother. Corless then uncovered oral histories from reliable local witnesses, offering evidence of where those children’s remains could be found. So what did the church and state think had happened? That the nuns had buried the babies in a lovely wee graveyard somewhere, but just couldn’t remember where?

Or maybe the church and state are expressing shock that nuns in mid-20th century Ireland could have so little regard for the lives and deaths of children in their care. The Ryan report in 2009 documented the systematic sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children in church-run, state-funded institutions. It revealed that when confronted with evidence of child abuse, the church would transfer abusers to other institutions, where they could abuse other children. The Christian Brothers legally blocked the report from naming and shaming its members. Meanwhile, Cardinal Seán Brady – now known to have participated in the cover-up of abuse by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth – muttered about how ashamed he was.

It may be time to stop acting as though the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of the Catholic church are news to us!

The same year, the Murphy report on the sexual abuse of children in the archdiocese of Dublin revealed that the Catholic church’s priorities in dealing with paedophilia were not child welfare, but rather secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of its reputation and the preservation of church assets. In 2013, the McAleese report documented the imprisonment of more than 10,000 women in church-run, state-funded laundries, where they worked in punitive industrial conditions without pay for the crime of being unmarried mothers.

So, you will forgive me if I am sceptical of the professed shock of Ireland’s clergy, politicians and official inquiring bodies. We know too much about the Catholic church’s abuse of women and children to be shocked by Tuam. A mass grave full of the children of unmarried mothers is an embarrassing landmark when the state is still paying the church to run its schools and hospitals. Hundreds of dead babies are not an asset to those invested in the myth of an abortion-free Ireland; they inconveniently suggest that Catholic Ireland always had abortions, just very late-term ones, administered slowly by nuns after the children were already born.

As Ireland gears up for a probable referendum on abortion rights as well as a strategically planned visit from the pope, it may be time to stop acting as though the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of the Catholic church are news to us. You can say you don’t care, but – after the Ryan report, the Murphy report, the McAleese report, the Cloyne report, the Ferns report, the Raphoe report and now Tuam – you don’t get to pretend that you don’t know. I wrestle with the reality that – in our schools and hospitals – we’re still handing power over women and children’s lives to the Catholic church. Perhaps, after Tuam, after everything, that’s what’s really shocking.