By Robin Gomes
Caritas Philippines has joined efforts to curtail the sexual abuse of minors by priests in the country. Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary of Caritas Philippines, said that part of the measure is to conduct ‘background checks’ of all Caritas directors.
He said they would make proactive background checks of all directors at the national and diocesan levels.
The priest made the statement during the launching of the “Alay Kapwa” Lenten campaign for Luzon at the Cathedral Shrine and Parish of the Good Shepherd in Quezon City on Feb. 3.
Caritas Philippines, also known as the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (Nassa), is the social action arm of the Catholic Church in the country. It is a member of Caritas Internationalis, the global confederation of 165 national Catholic relief and development agencies.
Fr. Gariguez clarified that the goal is to determine whether a priest has been involved in any abuse case, particularly of children. Addressing the diocesan social action directors present, he explained that Caritas is showing that it does not tolerate such abuses.
“Thus, if the need for each diocese to have a training on this matter and the mechanism on how this will be done, we will create and provide it for the protection ministry,” he said.
In July 2019, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) agreed to create a new office that will look into the cases of clerical abuse and augment the efforts in the diocesan level.
In May last year, Pope Francis issued his Moto Proprio, “Vos estis lux mundi” (You are the light of the world), establishing that all dioceses must have a “public, accessible and reliable” system for reporting cases of clergy sex abuses. It includes the obligation for clerics and religious to report abuse, while every diocese must provide itself with a system that is easily accessible to the public, to receive such reports.