And for many Catholics that’s very reassuring news – all too frequently in the past Filipino bishops have failed to cooperate with civil authorities and have protected paedophile priests, moving them to remote parishes.
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, as head of the Catholic Bishops National Tribunal of Appeals, was far more outspoken.
He said that the priest should be tried before a criminal court and, if found guilty, should be given a life sentence.
If this priest is prosecuted in a court of law for a child-sex crime, he’ll be the one of very few in the Philippines ever to do so.
And – we’ll stand corrected if we’re wrong – if he’s found guilty, it’ll be the first successful civil prosecution in the country of a priest charged with such an offence.
In 2002, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, then president of the politically powerful Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) – the episcopal hierarchy of the Church – apologised for the sins of the past committed by the Philippine priesthood.
Some 200 priests, he claimed, over the past 20 years had indulged in “sexual misconduct”, including adultery, homosexuality, sexual abuse and child-sex.In the meantime, he said, the priest should be tried under canon law, and again, if found guilty, should be dismissed of all clerical duties.Cruz – the author of “CBCP Guidelines on Sexual Abuse and Misconduct: A Critique” – is now the Church’s lead investigator into allegations of sex abuse committed my members of the Philippine priesthood. “I may be offending other bishops but this is a personal stand that gone are the days when you can just close your eyes and plug your ears …It was an unusually frank disclosure by the CBCP which traditionally handles all its sensitive business behind closed doors.What had prompted it, however, were local media investigations into allegations of sexual abuse by priests.He’s also forbidden from having contact with anyone apart from his lawyer, his brother-priests and church authorities.