At a press conference held at the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) in Seoul in March, Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, president of the CBCK, apologizes on behalf of priests accused of sexual abuse. (Photo by Catholic Times of Korea)
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) will set up a special bishops' committee in a bid to prevent sexual abuse by priests as more incidences of misconduct are exposed.
Korean bishops held a spring plenary session from March 5-9 and discussed setting up the Special Committee to Prevent Priests' Sexual Abuse panel under the CBCK.
"A bond has developed among our bishops [who believe] the recent cases of sexual abuse by priests serve as a last warning from God to the church in Korea," said Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of Kwangju, a city in the center of South Korea.
"With this momentum, the church in Korea should repent and prepare a path toward renewal and change," he said.
"The special committee will work to spread a culture that priests must both respect and care for the faithful."
In addition to the committee, each diocese will install a window to receive reports of sexual abuse inside the church. Bishops will directly handle such cases.
According to the CBCK, the special committee will consider remedies to prevent human rights abuses and support victims of sexual abuse.
It will also come up with a formal process to punish priests who commit such abuse and integrate an anti-abuse campaign into priestly training.
The committee also plans to research the causes of sexual abuse by priests and sexual discrimination in the church in general, after which it will produce guidelines to help eradicate these.
The plan will include efforts to raise women's rights and status in the church.
The CBCK president will chair the new committee and members will include priests, clergy and laywomen.
Korean bishops in particular expect laywomen members will speak up on behalf of women in the church and propose positive countermeasures against sexual abuse.
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