The days are fast approaching when office child sexual abuse cannot be covered up
These are days of darkness and light for many in the Catholic Church. The horrific denunciations of child sexual abuse by clerics around the world – in the United States, Ireland, Australia, Poland, Germany, Austria and the latest in France – are staggering and shocking. And there is more to come. It’s just a matter of time.
The cover-up of clerical sexual abuse of children by some Catholic authorities in cahoots with some civil authorities never seems to end. It has caused shame, embarrassment and loss of respect to devoted and innocent priests, clerics and laity.
The leaders of institutional churches in some places still strive to avoid shame and embarrassment by hiding the abusers and the records of their crimes against children. The days are fast approaching when the abuse of children by the clergy cannot be covered up and hidden. The perpetrators, where there is credible evidence, will have to be tried in civil courts, according to Pope Francis in his various instructions and in his apostolic letter. Your Estis Lux Mundi (You are the light of the world).
This papal instruction combats the sexual abuse of children by clerics and holds bishops and religious superiors accountable for their actions and inaction in holding child molesters to account and bring justice. In the Philippines, this has been done very rarely, if ever. Suspected priests are reassigned or are on permanent bail.
Covering up clerical abuse crimes against children is criminal behavior on the part of church officials, ignorant and silent priests, and their lawyers. They ignore the suffering and pain of victims by reimbursing parents or guardians and prosecutors for not pursuing a criminal case. They must understand that protecting the aggressor is a criminal offense. He must be brought to justice to end other abuses, protect children and bring justice to his victims. Yet cover-ups continue in the Philippines.
No true Christian, priest or bishop should curl up in shame and embarrassment at the heinous crimes of a few. The priesthood has been and continues to be tarnished only to the extent that bishops, priests and laity remain silent, inactive and indifferent to the reporting of child sexual abuse by clerics. The greatest sin is failing to help victims gain protection, healing, empowerment, justice, closure, and compensation.
Most bishops, priests and deacons around the world are committed Christians who serve the poor, comfort the sick, guide the lost, support the lonely, educate the ignorant.
Today there are 1.33 billion Catholics in the world and 414,582 priests. The majority of bishops and priests are good, caring people and dedicated pastors. Most are truly faithful to their celibacy vows, but not all. In the Philippines there are 86 dioceses and 5,037 priests. There is a culture of saving face and covering up child sexual abuse.
As Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said in television interviews: “We are dealing with it internally”. Pope Francis said the child rapist must be brought to civil court to be brought to justice.
Most bishops, priests and deacons around the world are committed Christians who serve the poor, comfort the sick, guide the lost, support the lonely, educate the ignorant. They are led by the most committed of all, Pope Francis, who has advocated for justice, compassion and solidarity with child victims and enacted new laws to protect them.
Hundreds of thousands of priests and clerics over the years have sacrificed their lives for their people. Hundreds are true martyrs. Thousands more have left their homes and families to serve as missionaries in foreign countries, including the Philippines, to join Christians in solidarity to bring truth, enlightenment, and social justice to many communities.
They have built schools, churches, hospitals and run projects that help the poor. They brought God’s love and social justice into the hearts of communities and into the lives of people who have been abandoned and exploited by corrupt businesses and government officials. These priests work for social justice. They will all say they hate the sexual abuse of children by anyone, especially priests.
So why then is the reputation of hundreds of thousands of good bishops, priests, clergymen and faithful Catholics tainted and tainted by the underhanded, despicable and hideous crimes of some of their deviant clergy when challenged by lay people? indignant in the media world?
The answer is because they were allowed by cover-ups, callous indifference, inaction and fear and shame to expose a priest by bishops, priests, clergy and lay Catholics who could not, did not want and cannot believe that their exalted priestly idol could have committed the heinous crime of child sexual abuse.
Abused children, who with extraordinary bravery dared to risk everything in their fragile young life to whisper the shocking truth to an adult about being sexually assaulted by a priest, are usually not believed. It’s another deep wound. They are rejected, scolded, accused of lying and ordered to keep quiet and never talk about it again. This is why there are few or no lawsuits against Filipino clerics.
In the Philippines, how many clergymen who abuse children have been held accountable in court? Very little or not at all.
Child victims generally do not have a protector; their parents are against them, especially if their attacker is a priest. Courageous are the parents who would challenge the powerful Institutional Church. Victims do not have supporters, and government social workers often abandon them too. The church and government have failed to provide safe and secure treatment centers run by professional therapists and counselors with experienced paralegal teams for child victims of sexual abuse. There are only a few NGOs that dare to rescue, protect, heal and seek justice in court against child rapists.
In the Philippines, one in three girls is sexually abused by parents, neighborhood pedophiles and the clergy. Few are reported. Children bury pain and suffer in silence. Everyone must stand up and fight this terrible crime in society, and in the Church in particular.
Any Christian who believes in the words of Jesus of Nazareth that children are most important in the kingdom of God must act on the truth and protect child victims by speaking out and bringing suspects to a fair civil trial. In the Philippines, how many clergymen who abuse children have been held accountable in court? Very little or not at all.
We must be advocates for abused children, protectors of victims and champions of what is fair and just for children. To remain silent, inactive and indifferent is the silence of consent.
* Any information on child abuse can be reported confidentially to the Preda Foundation by sending an email [email protected] The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.
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