HomeCommentaryClerical child abuse, a shocked president, and a silent church 

Clerical child abuse, a shocked president, and a silent church 

During a meeting of top cabinet members, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed shock and dismay. He was very disturbed about the prevalence of online sexual abuse and exploitation of small children as young as three years old. 

This is due to the inaction of the telecommunications corporations that defy the law (R.A. 11930) that mandates them to stop it.

The most frequent violators and abusers of children online in the home are parents and relatives. They are responsible for about 42 percent of online child abuse. 

The Catholic Church and President Marcos and his cabinet know the shocking truth that the Philippines is the worldwide hub of online child sexual abuse.

The truth is that child abuse in the family and clerical child abuse is a common crime ignored and left to grow unaddressed by the Church and the State. 

The root cause is the failure of telecommunication corporations to install blocking and detection AI-driven software on the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) computers. 

This is allowing the online streaming of live child abuse to go undetected as they are sent over the Internet to paying local and foreign customers. 

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This is where President Marcos and his cabinet, with all the power of government, meet their match. They are out-smarted, out-maneuvered, out-foxed, and out-played by the telecoms who make billions from the live streaming of child sexual abuse. 

They flout the law R.A.11930 which orders them to install blocking and detection AI software.  

Unicef said that as many as seven million Filipino kids are abused every year. Most remain silent about it since they are trained to keep secrets. 

The children are wrongly taught “huwag magsumbong” (don’t snitch). That is to say, never report abuse. This preconditioning is why children grow up carrying the hurt, pain, and anger of being abused and not allowed to report complain, or speak out. 

The psychological damage is enormous. Their learning is impaired and their personalities are affected. 

Recently, cases of 10-year-old boys raping six-year-old girls are becoming more common as they see it live on mobile phones. 

Besides, the decline in moral teaching on the dignity and rights of the child by the church is also responsible. 

Philippine Catholicism is morally weak. Christian values rarely impact the behavior of most people. There are too few leaders to stand against child sexual abuse and human rights violations. 

Catholicism, it seems, has become just kneeling in Church at Sunday mass, listening to an irrelevant sermon. 

Reducing the Gospel to rites and rituals without social commitment to action for justice is a contradiction of the Gospel message. 

The sacraments should be the source of spiritual strength to challenge corruption, abuse, and injustice. In reality, without social action, they are in danger of becoming like magical rites and rituals without a prophetic voice speaking truth to power and standing for moral values. 

This is clearly seen in the proliferation of crimes against children, human trafficking, online sexual abuse of children, sex bars, drug dens, and the widespread pornographic child abuse materials. 

The government allows it by issuing licenses and operating permits to the bars and dens where minors are abused. Law enforcement is paralyzed, not knowing what to do or how to do it. 

The Church ignores social evil, it seems, to the extent it has withdrawn from the real world of sin. Silence and permissiveness are other sins that are bordering on the social acceptability of child abuse. 

It could be a serious failure of religion to uphold the dignity and rights of children and a failure by clergy and lay Christians to openly oppose these crimes and the evil that causes them.  

If the Catholic faith means anything, it is taking a stand as did Jesus of Nazareth against such evil and giving protection and justice to the child victims. 

The relative silence and absence of Catholic social action today is glaring. Many years ago, youth leaders could rally thousands to protest injustice and protect child rights. 

If we believe with conviction that working for truth, justice, and goodness will overcome evil, we will win.

The Kingdom will be a reality. That is what Jesus of Nazareth taught by words and action. Living out the beliefs that are the bedrock of the Christian Faith is the only true authentic Christianity. 

Without that action, Faith is dead, said Saint James. We are left with empty rites and rituals and millions of children abused. 

Jesus of Nazareth himself has made it absolutely clear that the most important in the kingdom here on earth are children and unless adults are as innocent as children, they will not enter the Kingdom. 

In the Gospel of (Matthew 18 – 1-7) (LK:46-49) (Mark:11:33-37) he said we must be as innocent as a child and to accept one such child was to accept him and the one who sent him.

For the abusers of children that destroy their faith in Him, he declared they must be brought to accountability and justice with a millstone around their necks in the deep sea.

Strong words indeed but mostly ignored by some church leaders that prefer to deny and cover up the widespread reality of child sexual abuse and especially the most shameful of all clerical child abuse. 

This has to change as Pope Francis has tried to do. If enough people have the Faith, the conviction, and the belief that goodness and truth in social action will move mountains of evil, then they will win.

Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.

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