MANILA, Feb. 7, 2015—A priest praised Pope Francis for his determined stance in tackling head-on the issue of sexual misconduct involving some members of the clergy through a commission which seeks to root out the scandal and give justice to victims, stressing nobody, clerics or not, should commit such acts.
“While this is a welcome development for all people concerned, I think, all are one in hoping that sexual misconduct should, in the first place, not be committed by ‘men of the cloth’,” Fr. Jerome R. Secillano, parish priest of Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro in Sampaloc, Manila, told CBCP News in an interview.
Purifying the Church
The priest, who also serves as executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Permanent Committee on Public Affairs (PCPA), explained the creation of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors reminds clerics that sexual misconduct is a serious matter that will be dealt with appropriately and without let-up by Church authorities.
“The Holy Father’s insistence to create the commission for the protection of minors and for all those vulnerable adults is truly laudable. It concretely shows the Holy Father’s sincerity in addressing this problem and perhaps in ‘purifying’ the church. It also assures the victims that justice will be served,” he said.
At the same time, he explained, the body provides victims guidance on how to proceed in building a case against erring priests.
Secillano lamented that sexual misconduct, especially as committed by some clerics is, indeed, a scourge that undermines the credibility of the Church, and acknowledged the efforts of previous officials to respond to this problem.
Zero tolerance for abusers
“It may not be as concrete and comprehensive as this, but, nonetheless, there were interventions made which unfortunately were not to the satisfaction of many,” he said.
In a Feb. 5 letter, Pope Francis reminds bishops and major superiors worldwide of their responsibility of ensuring the safety of minors in parishes and Church institutions, detailing the establishment of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors “for the purpose of offering proposals and initiatives” to improve procedures for protecting minors and vulnerable adults, and to “rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused.”
“Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children. They should also know that they have every right to turn to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home. Consequently, priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors,” the Holy Father adds.
For the full text of the Pope’s letter, visit http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/02/05/pope_church_must_tackle_the_scourge_of_child_sexual_abuse/1121655. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)