Vatican prosecutor warns on Asia child abuse problem
Vatican City: The Vatican's top anti-abuse
prosecutor has warned that the Catholic Church in Asia is
falling behind in the fight against paedophilia due to
cultural differences over what constitutes child abuse.
"The problem is much accentuated in Asia," Archbishop
Charles Scicluna told reporters ahead of a major international
conference this week in the Vatican's Gregorian University on
the crisis of paedophilia in the Church.
Scicluna, who addressed an unprecedented closed-door
meeting on the issue with Asian Church leaders in Bangkok in
November last year, added: "There is an awareness that there
is abuse and something needs to be done."
The Vatican has asked national bishops' conferences from
around the world to submit by May their guidelines on how to
deal with abusive priests and cooperate with local law
enforcement in an effort to root out abuse.
"There are some who will miss the deadline but they'll get
there in the end," said Scicluna, who as "promoter of justice"
for the Vatican is charged with looking into the thousands of
cases of abuse by clergy.
Thousands of clergy abuse scandals in Europe and the
United States have rocked the Catholic Church in recent years,
revealing a culture of cover-up dating back decades that
Church leaders say they now want to eradicate.
Far fewer cases of child abuse have come to light in other
parts of the world such as Asia, Africa and Latin America,
where public scandals involving financial corruption or
affairs by priests with women have been more common.
One exception has been the Philippines, where the Church
has apologised for abuses committed by priests over a period
of 20 years and clergymen have been defrocked, although few if
any have been brought to justice.
The meeting of the Federation of Asian Bishops'
Conferences (FABC) in November, entitled "The Impact of
Paedophilia: Crisis in the Church in Asia", warned that abuse
"has already become a considerably serious problem in Asia".
Father Hans Zollner, one of the organisers of the Vatican
conference, said an important challenge for the Church was how
to apply on a global level its experience in dealing with
child abuse cases in Western countries.
"The question is how we can pass on what we have
learned... and how this can be brought to other continents
that don't have a minimum attention to child protection. Not a
minimum," said the German Jesuit.
"Talk about Africa, talk about India, talk about other
Asian countries, talk about some Latin American countries," he
Zollner, a psychotherapist, is leading a new Catholic
Centre for Child Protection which is being launched at the
conference and will have partners in Argentina, Ecuador,
Ghana, India, Indonesia, Italy and Kenya.