FOTO: Eva Leš // 67. redovno plenarno zasjedanje Sabora HBK
The Croatian bishops have established the National Office of the Croatian Conference of Bishops (CCB) for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults, which consolidates the work of the Commission for the Protection of Minors and Metropolitan Offices, as announced at the Press Conference following the 67th Ordinary Plenary Session of the Assembly of the CCB.
It was decided at the 67th Ordinary Plenary Session of the Assembly of the CCB that the newly established Office will be under the auspices of the Permanent Council of the CCB, with the aim of increasing the efficiency of monitoring and providing information in cases of abuse and the implementation of the new guidelines and provisions coming from Rome.
As Auxiliary Bishop Mijo Gorski of Zagreb said, this is not about abolishing separate bodies but about adaptation and the desire “to respond to needs in a better way” through the centralization of known information and the expertise of professionals in various fields. In addition to two regular employees, the Office will cooperate with experts from all over Croatia, who will assist the bishops in starting a process and providing appropriate assistance to the victims.
However, this does not mean that individual bishops will no longer have responsibilities regarding this issue. “On the contrary, every bishop has responsibility in his diocese but now there is a body that will make an even stronger contribution, most of all, we hope, to prevention.”
Cases of abuse can still be reported to dioceses. The local bishop can seek assistance and entrust or delegate an individual case to the National Office, which will have the appropriate experts. However, even if a bishop does not entrust a case to the Office, he must inform it thereof. In this way, the Office will become a “point of reference for all the events that occur” in this area, explained Archbishop Đuro Hranić of Đakovo-Osijek.
It will be possible to report a case directly to the National Office, which will not be returned to the diocese. However, the local bishop will be informed that there has been a report in the territory of his diocese, explained Bishop Gorski.
Archbishop Hranić commented that the system is quite “cunning.” Namely, if a case is reported in an individual diocese, the local bishop will handle it, but the case must be reported to the National Office. This body will monitor how the bishop resolves the case. As Bishop Hranić said, this will also serve as a reminder to a local bishop that a case cannot stagnate but must be resolved.
The National Office will be the point of communication with the state bodies and the competent Vatican dicastery.