UCA News
Contribute
shay_logo

Father Shay Cullen is an Irish Columban missionary who has worked in the Philippines since 1969. In 1974, he founded the Preda Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to protecting the rights of women and children and campaigning for freedom from sex slavery and human trafficking.

Church and state must protect children from abuse

A Filipino father and his child attend a dance exercise to draw attention to sexual abuse of women and children as part of the One Billion Rising campaign against such abuse in suburban Manila on Feb 6, 2016

A Filipino father and his child attend a dance exercise to draw attention to sexual abuse of women and children as part of the One Billion Rising campaign against such abuse in suburban Manila on Feb 6, 2016. (Photo: AFP)

Published: August 26, 2022 10:58 AM GMT
Inaction brings shame to the Church as well as a lifetime of suffering for the victims

Church and state are frequently slow and silent about the abuse of children and action is frequently lacking in bringing the abusers to justice.

Denials, cover-ups, intimidation of victims and witnesses, and pay-offs to parents and victims are the methods employed by suspects or their enablers to stop complaints from reaching the prosecutor or the courts.

When local officials arrange a payoff between abusers and parents and take a cut for themselves, the law is violated and the child victims are thrown aside to suffer in silence.

Ucan Store
Ucan Store

This criminal behavior of child abuse and the cover-up of the crimes is a total and outright contradiction and denial of the teachings of Jesus and a repudiation of Christianity. Pedophile priests who abuse children and bishops who send them on vacations must be challenged and brought to justice.

Pope Francis and the Vatican’s child protection task force have said priests must be formally accused when credible evidence is presented and they must be brought before civil prosecutors. The Church cannot ignore the child protection law of the people, it must obey it.

A recent Vatican guideline says that even anonymous reports of child sexual abuse allegedly committed by a cleric must be considered worthy of investigation. “The anonymity of the source should not automatically lead to the report being considered false, especially if it is accompanied with documentation that attests to the likelihood of a crime being committed.”

"Local people suspect there are many more pedophile priests in the diocese and parents are encouraging altar boys to come forward"

All the laws and instructions for bishops and priests and laypeople are available on the Vatican’s website, vatican.va.

Thanks to good police work in Batanes, in the Philippines, a wanted suspect, Rizalito “Regen/Regie” Javier, charged with child abuse in Cavite and with two arrest warrants against him, is now behind bars. He is a close friend of Father Rolly Olango, parish priest of Itbayat, who assigned him to organize and train the parish altar boys, knowing he was wanted on child abuse charges.

He was likely acting as a pimp, grooming and preparing the most vulnerable boys for abuse. Serious allegations of sexual abuse of several altar boys by clergy are now emerging and the parents are complaining that their children are showing psychological distress consistent with sexual abuse by priests.

The parishioners have written a letter to Bishop Juan Danilo Bangayan Ulep of Batanes, and they claim that Father Olango is protecting Javier and the parish priest has likely violated several laws such as harboring a fugitive and endangering children.

They have called for him to be suspended under Church law. Local people suspect there are many more pedophile priests in the diocese and parents are encouraging altar boys to come forward. Batanes is a small island of 20,000 inhabitants in the extreme north of the Philippines reached only by turboprop planes from Manila.

The victims can be helped to recover and triumph in life when they are rescued and given help at a private therapeutic shelter that provides protection, support, understanding, affirmation and emotional release therapy. Then, the survivors can recover and be empowered, emotionally strengthened and can live with self-confidence and testify against their abusers.

Maria (not her real name) is one of many survivors who brought about the conviction of her abusers. Maria testified against her biological father who raped her three times during the Covid lockdowns.

"The Philippine Court of Appeal is slow in rendering justice to victims of child sexual abuse when these cases should have top priority"

He was found guilty on three counts of child rape and sentenced to three life sentences without parole. His only defense was denial. Maria, his 12-year-old daughter under the care of the Preda Foundation, fought for justice after being healed from trauma and empowered by Emotional Release Therapy at Preda.

She was able to testify. The judge said in her decision: “Minor MMM’s testimony remained firm, consistent and trustworthy. She narrated her ordeal with the accused in a straightforward, spontaneous and coherent manner. She clearly narrated how she was repeatedly raped by the accused on three occasions.” Maria endured strict cross-examination and won her case, one of an average of 15 convictions won by children supported by Preda. Every act of justice brings hope and encouragement to child victims/survivors and defenders of children everywhere.

But often justice is blindsided by corrupt police and fake agents from a so-called child rescue charity that several minors have complained sexually abused them. National Bureau of Investigation officers refused to identify and arrest the fake charity agents they collaborated with. The Philippine head of the charity refused to identify their paid agents. The child traffickers were acquitted in two separate court cases because of this. The parent rescue charity in the US and Australia failed to respond to the child sex abuse complaints. Instead of being rescued, the minors’ destiny was to be sexually abused. Clearly, justice was obstructed with impunity and denied to the child victims.

The Philippine Court of Appeal is slow in rendering justice to victims of child sexual abuse when these cases should have top priority — as it is said, “justice delayed is justice denied.” We hope the Supreme Court will speed up the delivery of justice to child victims.

The world is watching and concerned nations are providing information and appealing for justice for children abused online through sex shows for foreign customers. However, most foreign police at embassies in the Philippines are focused on anti-terrorism work and ignore child abuse by their pedophile and human trafficking nationals. Canada is an exception. They have assigned a senior police officer to focus on the sexual abuse of Filipino children by Canadians.

Church leaders should be like Pope Francis and follow his example and constantly speak out against child abuse in society and in the Church. There is apathy, indifference and silence about the heinous crimes that are happening in families and in the Church. Sexual abuse leaves child victims suffering for the rest of their lives.

Inaction brings shame and repudiation to the institutions they represent. Like the parents of abused children in Batanes demanding justice from the Church and the bishop, everyone should speak out and demand healing, recovery, justice, and happier, better life for the victims of child sexual abuse.

* The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia