Cracking down on pedophile priests

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By Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye

Speaking Out

Sunday, July 13, 2014

POPE Francis recently backed with strong action his pronouncements to hold officials accountable in connection with the sex scandals that have shaken the Catholic Church.

On his assumption as pontiff, Pope Francis announced “zero tolerance” for the sex abuses, which he called “the shame of the Church.” He further said that dealing with the sex abuse allegations was “vital to the Roman Catholic Church’s credibility.”

Last December, he announced the creation of a Vatican committee that will help fight child abuse in the Church.


Three weeks ago, BBC reported that the Vatican tribunal convicted a Polish archbishop and stripped him of his priesthood because of sexual abuse.

The archbishop is the highest ranking Church official so far investigated. He was found guilty of charges that he had abused boys in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic during his assignment in that city as a papal ambassador.

In twin moves, apparently meant to address neglects of the past, Pope Francis recently met with victims of clerical sex abuse and at the same time warned that he would hold accountable church officials who neglect to protect victims or potential victims.

Vatican statement quoted Pope Francis as seeking the forgiveness of the sex abuse victims:

“I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse…”

The pope also warned that: “All bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors, and they will be held accountable.”

Vatican observers reported that the sexual abuse of children was rarely discussed in public during the 1970s. It was not until the 1980s that the first cases of molestation by priests came to light in the US and Canada.

Thereafter, revelations became widespread in more than a dozen countries.

Here are some of the celebrated cases as compiled by the Associated Press:

In the 1990s, two high profile cases made Boston the epicenter of the sexual abuse scandal. In one of the cases, a priest was accused of sexual abuse involving more than 130 children over a 30 year career in 6 parishes.

A succession of Boston higher church officials were also accused of mishandling the case and for failure to take stronger action. The priest involved was simply transferred from one parish to another, even after a clinical finding that he was suffering from psychopathic pedophilia.

Worst, Boston church authorities were alleged to have attempted to buy the silence of the victims through proposed settlements amounting to millions of dollars.

Relatives of victims claim that the authorities were more concerned with protecting the image of the clergy than protecting the victims.

The priest involved was eventually convicted and sent to prison. But this was for a separate offense committed after he was defrocked by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

While in prison, he was strangled to death by a cell mate. The assailant was serving sentence for killing another who had made a homosexual pass at him.

In 2006, a Mexican-born Catholic priest, who founded the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement, was disciplined for the abuse of boys and young men over a period of 30 years. Before he was unmasked as a child predator, he was admired by no less that Pope John Paul II.

In 2009, a report found rampant sexual and psychological abuse in Catholic-run schools and orphanages for most of the 20th century.

In 2010, a Belgian bishop resigned after admitting that he had sexually abused a boy for 10 years.

Also in 2010, a report mentioned at least 100 cases of pedophile priests in Italy during the last 10 years.

In 2012, a German priest admitted to 280 counts of sexual abuse involving three boys over a decade.

To my knowledge, nothing comparable in the scale described above, has occurred in the Philippines. I recall, however, a supposed conversation between a parish priest and a teenage boy who asked the former if reports of alleged pedophile priests were true. The priest reportedly answered: “Kiss muna.”

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