Cardinal Oswald Gracias, a member of Pope Francis’ council of cardinal advisers and part of the organising committee for the summit, said clerical sexual abuse ‘is not a limited phenomenon to the West even Asia and Africa have cases’.
Interestingly, Cardinal Gracias also recently admitted that he too did not act on sexual abuse complaints that were brought to his notice and regretted his actions.
“The entire Church must take an honest look and act decisively to prevent abuse from occurring in the future, and to do whatever possible to foster healing for victims,” he said during his speech at the Catholic Church Global Summit being held in Rome to address the issue of child abuse in the Catholic Church by clergy.
“We are each responsible for the whole Church,” he said, adding that sexual abuse is not just a problem in Western nations such as the United States or Australia that have faced public scandals in recent years.
“This, brothers and sisters, is just not true,” Gracias said, noting that “there are cases even in Asia and Africa.” The Church as a whole must conduct an examination of conscience on how it has handled the issue, he said, “because we in leadership roles did not do enough.”
Gracias’ speech came as many bishops from Asia and Africa in particular are facing pressure over what is perceived to be a dismissive attitude toward sexual abuse, arguing that there are other, more pressing issues in their regions.