The society has to abide by the law of the land on minors and report to authorities, even as it invokes the Canon Law. Under-50-year-olds found guilty may be dismissed. However, those over 60 are usually received back after serving their jail terms.
The church distinguishes between consensual sex and abuse of authority — like taking advantage of a religious sister or a young woman who needs help.
“We sanction that dearly,” Fr Stéphane says, but is tight-lipped about the number of such cases he handles.
The priest is categorical that the church risks bankruptcy from sexual abuse settlements. In the US, for instance, the church has paid close to $4 billion (Sh402.8 billion) in settlements and penalties. Close to 15 dioceses have gone bankrupt.
Also affected are Canada, Ireland, Germany and Belgium, where there has been strong reaction against paedophilia.
Africa is equally bad. Apart from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa, where bishops are acting on such cases, the rest are far behind.
“They believe it doesn’t happen,” Fr Stéphane said. Settlements are measly — Sstrong0,000 and 25,000 … but not for long.
He warned of western lawyers coming to file class action cases for sexual abuse victims, never mind their mercenary motives.
Does celibacy fuel paedophilia? The priest differs. Most abuses are done by men already in a relationship with a woman.
“Incest, the biggest crime against children, is mostly done by married men.”
While Fr Stéphane accuses priests of emotional immaturity, he notes: “Many women would tell you that their husbands are no more mature than their children.”
Since 2000 when the big child sex abuse scandals broke out, things have changed in the formation of priests, with more sessions on human sexuality and maturity and development.
Most ongoing cases happened between 1970 and 1990, and Fr Stéphane thinks ongoing strategies in priests’ training are paying off.
But he is cautious: “It takes 20 to 25 years for victims to speak out, so the cases perpetrated in 2000 will only come out in 2025.”
The biggest problem is bishops. When a priest with five children from five women is retained, bishops’ commitment to real change is called into question, Fr Stéphane said.
He cited cases of some priests being moved to other parishes or being sent for further studies.
Many African bishops feel they have to protect the church. “They haven’t learnt from the US that by trying to defend the reputation of the church, they made it worse."
Unless they read the warning signs, African bishops are going to learn the hard way, he says.
Fr Stéphane praises the media for its whistle-blowing, which has triggered high-profile resignations.
Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick of Washington and Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, South Australia are examples. The latter was jailed for hiding child sexual abuse.
“What Pope Francis is saying is that red and purple caps can no longer protect anyone from prosecution,” Fr Stéphane says.