UCA News

Philippines

Philippine bishops aim to protect minors from predatory priests

New office will provide canon law experts and professionals to tackle clergy sex abuse

UCA News reporter, Manila

UCA News reporter, Manila

Updated: January 24, 2020 07:41 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Philippine bishops aim to protect minors from predatory priests

Children call for an end to child abuse in a protest in Manila. Catholic bishops in the Philippines are creating an office to address cases of clergy sex abuse against minors and vulnerable people. (Photo: Jay Directo/AFP)

Share this article :
The Catholic bishops of the Philippines are creating an office that aims to ensure the safety of minors and vulnerable people.

The Office on the Protection of Minors will help dioceses to address cases of clergy sex abuse by providing canon law experts and other professionals.

A bishop, to be elected during a meeting of prelates this week, will head the office, said Father Marvin Mejia, secretary-general of the bishops' conference.

He said the new office was proposed during the preparatory meeting of the bishops' plenary meeting in Manila on Jan. 25.

"Let it be clear that the conference is addressing this," said the priest, although he said the authority to address issues of clergy sex abuse still lies with individual bishops.

"It’s still the individual local churches [that will decide] if there are accusations," he said.

Last year, a summit on the protection of minors in the Church was held at the Vatican for bishops to understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the sexual abuse of minors.

In April last year, the head of the Philippine Catholic bishops' conference asked for forgiveness over sexual abuses committed by members of the clergy, especially against children.

"We bow in shame, we beg for forgiveness," Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao told about 15,000 delegates at last year's National Youth Day celebration in Cebu.

"We continue to say: We are so sorry and beg for forgiveness from the Lord and from those this hurt and wrongdoing has been done." 

The archbishop assured participants of the gathering that church leaders in the country were "all committed and will do all that we can ... to stop this."

"There are procedures on what to do ... to bring justice to all," he said.

Archbishop Valles vowed that there will be no cover-up of crimes and abuses committed by members of the clergy.

"We will do whatever we can to protect minors in the Church. You heard me, no hesitation and cover-ups," he said in March.

The Philippines, Asia's biggest Catholic country, has seen sexual abuse charges leveled against its clergy.

In 2002, church leaders issued an apology for sexual abuses including adultery, homosexuality and child abuse by 200 priests in the Philippines over the previous 20 years.

The following year, at least 34 priests were suspended in a sex abuse scandal involving the sexual harassment of women.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM

Publisher

Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."