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Philippine church sets guidelines on sex offences

The church in the Philippines is preparing guidelines to deal with cases of sexual abuse and other offences by some of its 7000 priests and brothers, church authorities said yesterday.

Long a taboo subject in the Philippines, the church has recently admitted to cases of sexual abuse by its members. Over the weekend, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) held a plenary session which mainly discussed how to deal with such offences.

"To the various crises in society, we must now, with great sorrow and shame, add problems in the church," Orlando Quevedo, CBCP president and the archbishop of Cotabato, said in a statement.

"We confess that cases of grave sexual misconduct by clerics in the Philippines have rocked the bark of Peter. We, your pastors, humbly ask for forgiveness for the grave sins committed by some leaders against members of the flock.

The CBCP said the bishops studied the first draft of a protocol setting out guidelines on what could be done in sexual abuse cases. The final draft is likely to take another year to complete.

"We realise that forgiveness and apologies must flow into a commitment to be purified and renewed," Quevedo said, adding the protocol would "provide steps for profound renewal".

At least 85% of the Philippines' 76 million people are Catholic. Reports of some priests abusing minors and others living with women and fathering their children are widespread, but it was only recently that church authorities accepted there was a problem.


9 Jul 2002