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Clerical abuse of children, a case to answer

The recent arrest of a Catholic clergy for allegedly trafficking a 13-year-old minor highlights the scandal of clerical child abuse that is shameful and sinful for the Church. Child victims need help, therapy or a chance for justice for having been raped and sexually molested and trafficked.

The institutional Church, that is, the hierarchy in many countries has been shown to have failed in its obligation and duty to protect children and actively pursue clerical child abusers when the evidence was strong and clear. 

In the past the Church institutions in different countries even facilitated payoffs to parents of child victims and tried to use influence with the authorities to have charges against priests and religious dropped. Other clergy were moved to other parishes when complaints of child abuse were made against them. 

In many cases, there was no action by Church authorities to protect the child and report the alleged abuser to the authorities for the alleged crimes. There have been big changes in Church procedure in dealing with child abuse cases by clergy nowadays and a zero tolerance policy is in place thanks to Pope Francis.

Cardinal George Pell from Australia, the highest Vatican official to ever be charged, is facing alleged complaints of having abused children and covering up other similar cases by clergy. While we must respect the principle that everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty and not to be falsely accused, on the other hand, when the evidence is clear, then each person has a case to answer.

The case of the monsignor in Marikina is serious as he was apprehended in his vehicle while on the way to the motel with the 13-year-old child. The mother reported it to the police so it is presumed that she knows the age of her child. He had a gun, which he surrendered to the authorities. The girl previously told social workers that the man brought her to the motel before in June and warned her “at gunpoint” not to allow other customers to “book” her.

Everyone has to answer for their behavior no matter what station they hold in life. The higher their ascendency and position, the greater their responsibility to answer the charges and all are to be dealt with equally before the law. No privilege or power ought to excuse anyone from facing the truth.

In our experience helping victim-survivors of child sexual abuse and seeking justice for them, the majority of abusers are in fact the neighbors and so-called friends of the family. The worst offenders are stepfathers, the mother’s live-in partners, and the biological father. 

This just indicates how vulnerable children are to the crimes of adults against them when they are so weak and dependent. The youngest victim in our Preda Foundation home for abused girls is 6 years old. The average age of the victim-survivors is 14 years old. The fact that there have been no child abuse cases brought out in public against the clergy is significant and it can be presumed they are being protected. 

We have to take a stand and fight on for justice with and for the children. We hope that everybody will support victim-survivors so that justice, elusive as it maybe, will prevail. 

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