BY FR. SHAY CULLEN
THE MANY incidents of child sexual abuse by clerics has shamed thousands of good bishops and priests who have been justly angered by the rampant and tolerated child sexual abuse of their fellow pedophile priests and some bishops. They feel helpless when their bishop protects the pedophile priests and calls him “his son.” They hunger for justice for the victims and wish to exonerate their own vocation and blemished priesthood.
Church law now says every act of sexual abuse against a child is not only a heinous crime in civil law but is a violation of church law. (www.preda.org) Bishops have been scolded by Pope Francis for covering up child abuse cases among their priests instead of reaching out to help the victims, find them therapy, healing and justice. Instead, they try to buy off the child-victim and the family with money and promises. This is what happened in the case in a northern Philippines province in 2022.
Pope Francis says child abuse by a cleric is “a profound wound that cries out for healing.” The latest wound that is being suffered by a child (call her Angelica, not her real name) happened when she was 15 years of age. She complained of being raped and sexually assaulted many times by an assistant parish priest.
According to court records, the Catholic priest was arrested in the act of committing a crime of child seduction and abuse on Oct. 18, 2022 in a rescue and arrest operation planned and approved by the National Bureau of Investigation.
Angelica, now 16, was a member of the parish youth group helping in the church. The priest was their director with moral ascendancy and authority over them and they trusted him. Angelica, then 15 years old, was invited by the priest on Feb. 8, out for dinner. According to her, he started molesting her, touching her private parts and kissing her. She was shocked and got out of the car and ran all the way home. She was frightened and afraid to tell her parents lest they would not believe her and blame her for lying and making serious accusations against an influential member of the clergy who are like Gods in the rural towns.
According to the Resolution of the prosecutor, the priest used his influence and authority and through texting demanded Angelica to meet him again for him to apologize for what happened. When she went to the church, he pushed her into the car and drove to a hotel and there he raped her. He secretly took videos of the sexual intercourse on his cell phone and sent them to her and threatened to expose them on social media if she would tell anyone or if she refused to obey his commands and have sex with him. He made the child his sex slave. He used vile language when he threatened to destroy her and her family if she told anyone. He raped her many more times even on Holy Thursday in different places – in a hotel, in the car, in the school, in a memorial park. (To be continued)/PN