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Taiwan accredits first Catholic priest to probe child abuse

John Lee Hua attended state-sponsored training to obtain a state certification
Jesuit priest John Lee Hua.

Jesuit priest John Lee Hua. (Photo: Chinese Jesuit Province)

Published: March 15, 2024 10:25 AM GMT
Updated: March 15, 2024 10:31 AM GMT

Jesuit priest John Lee Hua became the first Catholic priest in Taiwan to obtain certification from the civil authorities in Taiwan to investigate child protection cases.

Lee dedicated himself to the work of protecting children and young adults for years, and recently obtained qualification in the “Scholar and Experts Pool for Investigating Violations of Laws by Individuals Involved in the Protection of Children and Young People,” says a report from the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) on March 12.

Lee, 58, a member of the Chinese Jesuit Province, is the first priest in Taiwan to attain this certification, JCAP said.

Last July, Lee participated in a three-day training session organized by the Ministry of Education.

The training aimed to ensure that investigation procedures for suspected cases of child abuse within educational and protection service organizations are fair and professional.

About 200 professionals from the fields of early childhood education, child protection, and children’s rights participated in this training.

The Ministry of Education invited scholars and experts with professional backgrounds in law and investigation of unsuitable teachers, as well as preschool principals and teachers with practical experience, to give lectures on various topics, such as the amended Early Childhood Education and Care Act, the Statute for Preschool Educators, basic concepts and practices in investigation procedures, handling procedures for violations of laws and regulations, and report writing.

The training provided a balance of theoretical knowledge and practical application.

As an accredited expert, he can now be invited by the civil authorities to conduct investigations into physical and psychological abuse, corporal punishment, bullying, sexual harassment, inappropriate discipline, and other illegal incidents involving young children.

This ensures the fairness of investigation procedures and lightens the burden on local authorities while fostering a more supportive environment for education and protection services, JCAP said.

To assist qualified investigators in upholding professionalism, Lee continued his education by participating in a two-day "Advanced Education Training for Professionals Investigating Correctional Services Violations” organized by the National Education Department in January.

This further deepened his understanding of relevant laws and operational practices in the field.

Lee said he hopes to have the opportunity to serve the church’s education and protection organizations, primarily through regular advocacy efforts, placing greater emphasis on prevention rather than investigation following an incident.

Born in the third generation of a Catholic family in Taiwan, Lee is the former provincial of the Chinese Jesuit Province which covers mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

He is now the director of the Office of the Protection of Minors and Professional Standards of the Chinese Jesuit Province.

In Taiwan, Jesuits have been serving for more than five decades.

A democratic nation, Taiwan never officially declared independence while China considers the island as a breakaway province and threatened to annex it militarily.

About four percent of Taiwan’s estimated 24 million people are Christians, according to official data. Buddhists make up the majority with about 35 percent, Taoists 33 percent and non-religious about 19 percent.

Catholic Church in Taiwan has about 300,000 members in one archdiocese and six dioceses.

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