A new safeguarding office in Croatia

Today, an alumna of our diploma and licentiate programs, Marina Šijaković, shares news about a new safeguarding office in Croatia.

On Saturday, 19 December, the first session of the Metropolitan Office of the Đakovo-Osijek Church Province for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons was held. The office was appointed on 1 August 2020 and consists of experts in the fields of psychology, church law, education, formation, and child protection. The members of the office are Josip Bošnjaković, president; Želimir Žuljević; Drago Marković; Sebastijan Šujević, SI; Sr. Kaja Ljubas; and Marina Šijaković, secretary.

The Metropolitan office must be organized to enable the reporting of abuse of potential victims, take initiatives to combat possible acts of abuse of minors and vulnerable persons, and conduct education on the protection of minors and vulnerable persons. In cooperation with educators, it must monitor and encourage the implementation of educational programs in seminaries and educational institutions and train pastoral workers in matters of protection of minors and prevention of abuse

From their perspectives, the participants presented suggestions on what to do, but also shared their experiences with what has already been done in this area. It is necessary to act preventively and sensitize various groups within the Church to the importance of protecting minors and vulnerable people, and to harmonize the ways of reporting possible cases of sexual abuse, which must be transparent and accessible to all. It is suggested that training be offered for priests, monks, and staff in Catholic institutions.

There have been several education sessions in the Đakovo-Osijek diocese, but they need to be expanded to reach a larger number of people. Prevention models can be implemented in cooperation with the Center for Fostering the Wellbeing of Vulnerable Persons in Zagreb, which opens on 1 March 2021. The Center in Zagreb is being created in cooperation with the Centre for Child Protection in Rome, Catholic University of Croatia in Zagreb, and Die Sternsinger – Kindermissionswerk in Germany. Participants concluded that there is a need to take concrete actions to make children and minors feel safe.