Bishop Warns Asia Could be Next in Church Sex Abuse Scandal

Posted February 9th, 2012 at 11:40 am (UTC-5)
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Top Catholic Church officials are being warned Asia could be next in the growing child sex abuse scandal.

Manila's archbishop, Monsignor Luis Antonio Tagle, told fellow bishops and other Catholic officials Thursday that a growing number of victims have come forward in recent years in the Philippines. He also said there are likely many more cases of child sex abuse that have not been reported.

Tagle said that many Asians are reluctant to come forward to report abuse to authorities, fearing that by making the details public they and their families will be shamed.

Tagle spoke on the final day of a closed-door, church sponsored symposium in Vatican City on the sex abuse scandal. His comments follow a similar warning issued by the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences in November, which called for “drastic and immediate measures” to contain the problem.

Pope Benedict has expressed shame and sorrow over abuse allegations that have rocked the church in the past decade. He has called on bishops to come up with common guidelines against pedophiles by May of this year.

On Wednesday, the Vatican's top sex crimes prosecutor blasted bishops for their “deadly culture of silence” in dealing with the scandal.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna said no strategy to prevent child abuse would work “without commitment and accountability.” He also warned bishops they can and should be removed from office if they fail to follow church guidelines on reporting abuse allegations.

Many victims' groups have long been critical of the Catholic Church and its bishops for shielding priests accused of sexually abusing children, often by moving pedophile priests from parish to parish instead of turning them over to civil authorities. Those same groups have also been critical of the symposium, dismissing it as a public relations maneuver.

Earlier this week, the church said it has been notified of more than 4,000 child sex abuse cases involving church officials over the past decade.