Church failing to tackle sex abuse in ‘Global South’

Manila Times [Manila, Philippines]

October 30, 2022

By Agence France-Presse

A senior official in the Vatican’s advisory commission on clerical sexual abuse admitted on Friday that the Catholic Church was failing to tackle the scourge in the southern hemisphere.

There was a “disparity in training and prevention of child sexual abuse between the northern and southern hemispheres,” warned Andrew Small, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

The abuse scandal erupted in the second half of the 1980s, sparking an avalanche of allegations about pedophile priests around the world, from Australia and Chile to France and the United States.

Pope Francis has insisted that the Church will adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to abuse, but critics say many countries are yet to seriously confront the issue.

There was an “urgency… to remedy the huge inequality in safeguarding services between the global north and south,” Small said in an article published in the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.powered by AdSparcGet the latest news delivered to your inboxSign up for The Manila Times’ daily newslettersBy signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

The British priest, who was appointed by Francis last year as part of the pontiff’s efforts to stop pedophile clerics, said the commission had doubled in strength in September, from 10 to 20 experts.

One of its tasks was to monitor the implementation of guidelines on the training of new priests and the reporting of alleged abuse cases, he said.

“Although almost all of the world’s 114 bishops’ conferences have drafted and presented a set of guidelines, there remains the important question of their effectiveness and verification, both of which are essential when dealing with child protection,” he said.

The commission has also been tasked with drawing up a yearly report to chart progress on the safeguarding of minors across the global Church.

It will look at how much care is taken of survivors of clerical abuse, as well as monitoring whether countries and dioceses have implemented effective safeguarding guidelines.

The report would provide an “urgent degree of transparency and accountability with regards to the protection (of children) and management of abuse [cases],” Small said.

It was not clear, however, if the report would be made public.

And despite years of appeals by survivors to be heard, the “weight and significance actually given to the experiences of victims” by bishops was “limited… (and) difficult to discern,” the secretary said.