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Taiwan archbishop seeks better child protection

Archbishop Hung calls for improved priestly formation and use of civil law to combat clerical abuse

ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong

ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong

Updated: March 05, 2019 03:42 AM GMT
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Taiwan archbishop seeks better child protection

Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan attended the recent Vatican summit on protection of minors. (Photo supplied)

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Returning from the recent Vatican summit on protection of minors, the president of the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference said in an interview that he gained a deeper understanding of clerical sex abuse.

Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan of Taipei took part in the four-day summit in the latter part of February.

A subsequent interview with Radio Veritas Asia was uploaded to social media including YouTube and Facebook.

In the interview, Archbishop Hung said he had asked a priest returning from New York why there had been so many cases of clerics sexually abusing minors in the United States.

He quoted the priest as saying that the situation now is drastically different from the past. Meeting minors, priests now did not hug them, shake their hands nor have any other physical contact.

"They put their hands at their back," the archbishop said. "And the whole culture has changed."

The archbishop cited a journalist who compared clerical sex abuse to a medical practitioner prescribing poison to a patient.

And he recalled that at the Vatican summit the Pope described child sexual abuse as equivalent to suffocating children alive.

Further, he questioned why clerical abusers had simply been transferred to a new diocese without treating them for the mental illness that lay behind their crimes.

The prelate recalled that he had experience of outside meddling in criminal cases when he was the discipline master of Fujen Catholic University in Taiwan and a student was accused of raping a woman who worked in a video shop there.

After he reported the matter to police, attempts were made to block the student's expulsion on the ground that doing so would damage his future employment prospects.

Archbishop Hung agreed that the Church's reporting system should involve both in-house procedures and reporting to civil authorities.

He said transferring an abusive priest without reporting the case to law enforcement agencies was insufficient.

At the same time, the rights of all suspects to a fair trial needed to be protected before any premature judgment was made.

Archbishop Hung expected that clearer guidelines would be drafted on the treatment of alleged clerical abuse cases.

Participants at the Vatican summit reached a measure of agreement in relation to assessing candidates for the priesthood, he noted.

The prelate quoted the experience of Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who pointed out that when he was appointed archbishop of Manila it was difficult for him to know about the background of priests when he had not been involved in their formation.

The prelate noted that with a lack of young people seeking to take up the priesthood in Taiwan, some dioceses accepted candidates without proper screening, including helpful but not foolproof psychological testing.

However, he believed that ultimately parishioners would be able to identify which pastors were protecting their flocks.

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