Who will hold him ac­count­able?

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOPSTORY! - NINI B. CABAERO

AT THE “Meet­ing on The Pro­tec­tion of Mi­nors in the Church” at the Vat­i­can last month, Pope Fran­cis out­lined the many di­men­sions to ad­dress “the plague of sex­ual abuse against mi­nors.”

These di­men­sions in­clude, among oth­ers, the pro­tec­tion of chil­dren, the “im­pec­ca­ble se­ri­ous­ness” in stat­ing that the Church “will not be spared in do­ing ev­ery­thing nec­es­sary to bring to jus­tice any­one who has com­mit­ted such crimes,” and “true pu­rifi­ca­tion” to trans­form mis­takes into op­por­tu­ni­ties to “erad­i­cate this scourge not only from the body of the Church but also from that of so­ci­ety.”

Pope Fran­cis, in a press state­ment at the end of the meet­ing held at the Vat­i­can from Feb. 21 to 24, said, “Here again I would state clearly: if in the Church there should emerge even a sin­gle case of abuse – which al­ready in it­self rep­re­sents an atroc­ity –that case will be faced with the ut­most se­ri­ous­ness. Broth­ers and Sis­ters: in peo­ple’s jus­ti­fied anger, the Church sees the re­flec­tion of the wrath of God, be­trayed and in­sulted by these de­ceit­ful con­se­crated per­sons. The echo of the silent cry of the lit­tle ones who, in­stead of find­ing in them fa­thers and spir­i­tual guides en­coun­tered tor­men­tors, will shake hearts dulled by hypocrisy and by power. It is our duty to pay close heed to this silent, choked cry.”

Dur­ing a dis­cus­sion in that meet­ing, some­one asked: Who will hold bish­ops ac­count­able? The Church or civil au­thor­i­ties? To Anne Bar­rett Doyle, a co-founder of the re­search and ad­vo­cacy web­site Bish­opAc­count­abil­ity.org, it should be civil au­thor­i­ties. This would min­i­mize sus­pi­cions of a white­wash by bish­ops.

What came out of the Vat­i­can meet­ing hits a lit­tle close to home af­ter a pri­est in Cebu was cited for mo­lest­ing a mi­nor in­side the rec­tory. Arch­bishop Jose Palma con­firmed last Satur­day there was a com­plaint against a pri­est in Du­man­jug town for mo­lest­ing a 17-year-old fe­male al­tar server. The pri­est has been re­lieved of his du­ties and an in­ves­ti­gat­ing com­mit­tee of two mon­signors, Palma said, will look into the al­le­gat i ons.

The girl said she de­liv­ered vi­ta­mins to the pri­est’s room, then the pri­est in­vited her to eat and watch tele­vi­sion with him. A po­lice re­port said the pri­est then told the girl to lie be­side him in bed; it was then that he re­port­edly em­braced and kissed her. The girl’s fam­ily com­plained to the Na­tional Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (NBI) 7 which will file against the pri­est charges of acts of las­civ­i­ous­ness un­der the Spe­cial Pro­tec­tion of Chil­dren against Abuse, Ex­ploita­tion and Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act.

This is now an op­por­tu­nity for the lo­cal Church to make pub­lic its pol­icy for han­dling abuse cases, es­pe­cially af­ter the Vat­i­can meet­ing last month. If the process is clear, there would be no con­fu­sion on who should make the pri­est ac­count­able and no sus­pi­cion of bish­ops cov­er­ing up for the pri­est.

Now that the girl’s com­plaint is with the po­lice and the NBI, let civil au­thor­ity in­ves­ti­gate the com­plaint and, when war­ranted, take the pri­est to court.

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