In February 2017, Al Jazeera’s 101 East produced this 25-minute documentary feature about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the Philippines.
It’s a great primer for anyone interested in learning more about the clergy sexual abuse crisis in this VERY Catholic country.
Here’s a peek at what you’ll see:
- The Catholic Church in the Philippines is the strongest institution in the country, in many ways even stronger than the government.
- Victims who come forward to report abuse are met with intimidation and fear. One girl was beaten by her family for reporting. Even a lawyer for priests—men who are his friends—says that these matters are best handled “behind closed doors.” The only priest who was ever convicted for abuse soon found his conviction overturned.
- Sexually abusive priests are transferred from parish to parish, without church leaders informing local Catholics that the man leading Mass has admitted to molesting children.
- According to Fr. Jaime Achacoso, the secretary for the Canon Law Society of the Philippines, in many dioceses, 1 in 5 priests have fathered children.
- According to retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz (who is mentioned in Part One in this series and is not one to mince words), his office reviews up to sixty cases of priest misconduct at a time. This can include sexual abuse, priests fathering children, etc. But with 82 jurisdictions in the Philippines, each bishop uses discretion and only sends the worst cases to Cruz’s office. Otherwise, Cruz says, “I might drown.”
- The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines put out guidelines to prevent the sexual abuse of minors in 2001. Those guidelines were rejected by the Vatican because they allowed for priests to be able to father one child. (I will write more about that in a later post.) The guidelines were approved without the provision, but the bishops didn’t know. Al Jazeera told them about it in the interview.
Watch the whole thing here: