The times have caught up Print
Thursday, 06 September 2018 14:30

By Remedios F. Marmoleño

A grand jury in Pennsylvania, USA has come out with a report narrating the result of investigations into child sex abuse attributed to Catholic priests in the several dioceses of Pennsylvania over several years. The report said that some 1000 young people were sexually abused by about 300 Catholic priests over a period of 70 years. Many of the abusers have died and many too can no longer be charged because the statute of limitations for the crime concerned has lapsed.

The crimes reported were in themselves abhorrent but what is just as disturbing, or perhaps even more so, is the fact that the bishops  tried to cover up the criminal acts of the priests involved. The strategy used was to refer the erring priest to psychotherapy or simply to send him away to a parish in a far away diocese.

Pope Francis has written a letter to the whole Church regarding these abuses and has agreed that these actions of consecrated persons towards young people are abhorrent, and that the whole Church joins in the shame of the doers and in the sufferings of the victims.

“Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults,” the Pope said in his letter.

From my own limited observation and knowledge of the situation in our own country, I think sexual abuse of minors in the Philippines has not been as serious as it has been in such countries as Ireland, the USA and Australia. We cannot say though that there have not been  similar cases in the Philippines at all. One that was publicly claimed is that of Pres Duterte  who claimed he was abused by a Jesuit while in high school in Davao. Knowing that his father at the time held a very high position in Davao would such a case have been kept quiet? I doubt it.

Perhaps what our bishops should look into more strictly is the situation where some priests cohabit with women quite openly. Sometimes a priest not in clerical clothing is seen in the mall with the woman in question, along with the children of their relationship.

We believe in the Church established by Jesus Christ but that belief needs to be reinforced by priests who are seen to be true to their vows.