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Filipino archbishop warns: abuse scandal may hit Asia next

Catholic World News - February 09, 2012

Speaking at a Vatican-sponsored conference on sexual abuse, the Archbishop of Manila warned that Asian countries might soon see a spate of reports about clerical abuse.

"Though the issue of the child abuse crisis has yet to come into the open in the societies of Asian countries, as it has happened in the West or in other continents of the world,” said Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, “it appears it will not be too late before it might come to (a) similar situation in Asia.”

Archbishop Tagle said that a culture of deference to authority in Asia, and a keen interest in preserving one’s own honor, may have contributed to a tendency to keep quiet about abuse. Especially in the heavily Catholic Philippines, he said, respect for priests may also have deterred reports. But he said that more victims have come forward in recent months, and acknowledged that many more could emerge.

The Filipino archbishop said that Church leaders in that country hope to learn from the painful experiences of Catholic bishops in the US, Ireland, and other countries where the scandal has already exploded. In an interview with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, Archbishop Tagle said that bishops should be held accountable for their reactions to sex-abuse claims. He said that the Vatican should take action against bishops who fail to respond appropriately, and noted that “when it has happened, it’s restored peace in the communities.”

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