By Christina Hermoso
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has issued a pastoral statement on reports of sexual misconduct involving clerics expressing pain and shame and vowed not to cover up these abuses and crimes.
“In these recent days, we feel again, with growing intensity, the pain and shame, because of the many revelations of sexual misconduct, most particularly those done against minors but not only minors, committed by a significant number of clerics, a number of bishops, and by consecrated persons,” said the statement signed by CBCP president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles.
“This brings to mind the admission of the bishops here in the Philippines, in our recent July 2018 CBCP Statement: We admit humbly that we are a Church of sinners, called to conversion and holiness at the same time. We bow in shame when we hear of abuses being committed by some of our fellow Church leaders – especially those ordained to ‘act in the person of Christ,’” the statement said.
The bishops cited a letter by Pope Francis entitled “To the People of God” expressing pain on the reported abuses and reaffirming the Church’s commitment to protect vulnerable individuals.
“Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults,” read part of letter that was released last August 20.
The CBCP vowed not to cover up abuses as it sought to review the existing guidelines for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. The prelates also intend to combine prayer with fasting as Pope Francis suggested.
“The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion. In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel. This is something that we can organize and do in our dioceses and parishes, in our religious communities, and in our basic ecclesial communities,” the statement said.