US watchdog group claim abusive clergy still serving in PH

LOS ANGELES – After Pope Francis’ January trip the Philippines, where he made calls to protect children, a US-based watchdog group released a report claiming children in the Philippines may not be safe from priests who are documented offenders.

The group Bishop Accountability is now calling on the Vatican and Philippine church and government officials to look into the way the legal system deals with these clergy members.

“He spoke about the suffering of children when he was in the Philippines. That’s one reason we are asking Pope Francis to intervene, as well. He cannot change the economic inequities that prevail in the Philippines that cause the children suffering. He certainly can’t stop natural disasters like the typhoons, but he can do something about the lenience of the Philippine Bishops Conference and the individual bishops in the Philippines towards accused and known abusers in the priesthood. The suffering of children is being deepened by Filipino bishops who keep abusers in the ministry,” explained Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org.

The group claims that their research has found at least a dozen Catholic priests in the Philippines who have been linked to child abuses cases in the US, and yet, they continue to serve in the Philippines despite recommendations and warnings from US church officials.

They say the accused priests are being shielded by local bishops, and for one reason or another had been able to avoid prosecution in the US.

“Bishops are not required to report child sexual abuse. Here in the United States it varies state by state. But in most states bishops or, for that matter, any individual who knows or suspects that a child is being abused must report to civil authorities,” Doyle added. “So there is an impunity for Catholic bishops and religious supervisors that stands to the legal systems in the Philippines that is allowing abusers to stay in ministry and subjecting children to harm.”

The report is disturbing to Rita Milla, the California woman abused by seven Filipino priests as a teenager in the 1980s. Milla was impregnated by one of the priests and gave birth in the Philippines. She eventually won a settlement with some of the priests apologizing.

“It worries me a lot because that means some one can be going through the same thing. Especially since it’s out in the open with their bishops. If they know that the bishop knows and if the bishop is okay with it, there’s nothing to stop them,” said Rita Milla.

Bishop Accountability has sent the report to the Catholic Bishops Conference in the Philippines, as well as to several Philippine government agencies, calling for them to look into these priests.

They also sent the report to Gabriel Dy-Liacco, who has been named to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. They are hoping he can bring up the issues of abusive clergy and the Philippines lack of regulation to the Vatican.

“He’s educated and more open. He should be able to see things as they really are and hoping should find solutions that are real solutions — not like what the bishops think is the solution of keeping things the way they are. I’m hoping that he will be able to do something. The problem is that if he tries and the bishops don’t go along with it, I’m afraid he might get disgusted and quit. I hope he doesn’t quit, even if he needs assistance,” urged Mila.

While the watchdog groups have yet to get a direct response to their letter, Pope Francis has reiterated the need for bishops to be accountable in sex abuse cases, with officials from the CBCP publicly welcoming the Pope’s initiatives to further protect children.

You can contact Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com for more information.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • Kuya
    3 April 2015 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Clean your own backyard before looking at others okay?

  • gerry stein
    5 April 2015 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    of course phil bishops dont report any priests who commits these perversions because most of them are latent pedophiles themselves…!!!

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