Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Global Abuse: Chile, India.

First, the problem of sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy was seen as just an American problem, then just the Americans, and those priest-ridden Irish. Earlier this year, the world began to realise that it was also a more widespread European problem, with rapidly increasing reports also from Germany, Netherlands, France, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, Poland…

The truth of course is that this is no more than just a European problem, any more than it was ever just an American issue. This was just where the news broke first.  There is every reason to suppose that comparable stories wills till emerge from the countries of the South. I have already reported on the first stories emerging from Brazil and a single instance (concerning child pornography) from Chile.  Now, we have more reports from Chile, and one from India.

The first report from Chile concerned a  Spanish teacher, rather than a priest, who was arrested in Chile on charges of filming the sexual abuse of boys. Now, the Catholic archbishop of Santiago has admitted that the Chilean church is investigating “a few”, cases involving paedophilia and the clergy.  He says there are “just a few” cases, for which he thanks God.  So do I – if it remains just a few. The experience from elsewhere, however, is that “just a few”” cases which are known initially, have a habit of growing to a few more as more victims are emboldened to speak up- and the growing trickle then becomes a flood. (Initial reports from Germany were of fewer than a hundred cases. When the hotline opened last week, it handled thousands of calls within the first few days.)

From the Strib:

Roman Catholic archbishop in Chile says 'a few' cases of paedophilia are being investigated

SANTIAGO, Chile - The archbishop of Santiago says the Roman Catholic Church is investigating "a few" cases of pedophilia involving priests in Chile, an issue church leaders long sought to play down. 
"There is something to these pedophilia abuses — just a few, thank God," Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz said in an interview on state television Sunday evening. 
Errazuriz did not say how many cases or whether they had been reported to police. Press representatives of the Santiago diocese told the Associated Press on Monday that they didn't know how many pedophilia cases were under investigation.

Meanwhile, the first report from India does not concern abuse in India, but an Indian priest who is wanted in the USA to face trial over allegations concerning actions when he was based in Minnesota.  The interesting feature about the Indian hierarchy, concerns their response ( or lack of response) to calls for extradition – and how it has changed dramatically in the face of publicity.

When news first broke last week that Fr Joseph Jeyapaul, now working back in India, was wanted to face criminal charges in Minnesota for allegations dating back to 2004 and 2005, there were conflicting claims from the Vatican, which said it had “warned” the Indian Church authorities about Fr Jeyapaul. and from his current diocese, which claimed there was no case to answer, and so there were no plans for him to return to the US.

From the Modesto Bee:
Bishop Victor Balke of the Diocese of Crookston tried three times to alert superiors about a visiting priest accused of raping a 15-year-old girl in 2005. The Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul, a native of India who served in the diocese in 2004 and 2005, returned to India before legal charges were filed. Roseau County authorities are seeking to have him returned to Minnesota to face rape charges. 
Balke wrote his first letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office charged with disciplining priests, in December 2005. 
"I cannot in good conscience allow this matter to be passed over because the cleric has left my territory," he said. "In my mind, that would be a shameful act of betrayal towards the women and girls in India to whom Fr. Jeyapaul could at present pose a serious risk."
Five months later, the office responded to Balke that Jeyapaul was being monitored.
"Do you know what being monitored means?" Anderson asked rhetorically. "It means nothing. They are doing nothing.

From the Wall Street Journal
Father Jeyapaul said a 2007 internal church investigation into his 28 years as a pastor in India didn't produce any allegations of sexual abuse. 
Bishop Arulappan Amalraj of the Ootacamund diocese, which conducted the investigation, confirmed that the report contained no allegations, and said in an interview that the Vatican had contacted him in late 2006 and 2007 seeking information on Father Jeyapaul after learning of the allegations in Minnesota. Bishop Amalraj said he sent a report from the inquiry to the Vatican in early 2008.
From Ksax TV Eyewitness News
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Vatican officials warned church officials in India to monitor a Catholic priest charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Minnesota, but four years later he continues to work in his home diocese. 
In a 2006 letter to the bishop of the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, Archbishop Angelo Amato wrote that the Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul would be watched in his home diocese "so that he does not constitute a risk to minors and does not create scandal."
Jeyapaul denies the charges and has no plans to return to the U.S. to face the courts. His current bishop says Jeyapaul has a paperwork job in his office and does not work with children.
Latest reports, show that the publicity has made a difference.  four years after the Minnesota bishop first wrote to the CDF, years in which the Vatican wheels moved with typical Vatican speed (i.e., near inaction), suddenly Fr Jeyapaul will, after all, return to the US to face his accusers.  The lessons are plain:  even when the Vatican does indeed “act” to ensure that accused paedophiles  face proper investigation and possible trials, the procedures that they follow are glacially slow.

However, when faced with the full force of publicity, things can change very suddenly. The intense public scrutiny the media are now applying to the Vatican may not be popular with the oligarchy, but it is clearly bringing results, and must continue.

NY Times:

Priest in India Says He’ll Go to U.S. to Face Sex Charges

NEW DELHI — A Roman Catholic priest in southern India charged with sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Minnesota in 2004 said Tuesday that he would return to face the charges, though he and his supervising bishop in India said they did not know about the criminal charges until reporters contacted them.

(If they “did not know” until reporters contacted them, how effective was the Vatican scrutiny? Or has somebody here, either the CDF or the diocese, been somewhat economical with the truth?  )

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