Archbishop Cruz tells Duterte: File complaint on sexual abuse claims

Manila Archbishop Antonio Luis G. Tagle as announces the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines on January 15-19 next year during a press conference July 29, 2014 in Intramuros, Manila. (MNS photo)

Manila Archbishop Antonio Luis G. Tagle as announces the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines on January 15-19 next year during a press conference July 29, 2014 in Intramuros, Manila. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – File a complaint.

This was the reaction of Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz on claims by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that a priest sexually abused him when he was young.

Cruz said that while he understands Duterte’s manner of speaking, for which the presidential aspirant has drawn flak, the mayor’s “serious” claim against clergymen is another matter altogether, and that Duterte should file a case against the abusers.

“I think he should not just let go of this like that. Kung talagang reformer siya, he should follow through. Hindi ‘yung sasabihing, “Wag na, kawawa naman sila.’ Oh, come on, walang ganiyanan,” he said.

Earlier, Cruz scored Duterte for his profanity-laced declaration speech last Monday, saying “Delikado ang mga ganitong nilalang.”

Duterte came under fire among netizens for his comments about being stuck in traffic during last January’s Papal Visit, when it took him five hours to travel to the airport because of road closures.

The head of the CBCP, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, also criticized Duterte.

On Duterte’s penchant for expletives and the audience’s reaction, Villegas said: “Vulgarity is corruption. When we find vulgarity funny, we have really become beastly and barbaric as a people. When a revered and loved and admired man like Pope Francis is cursed by a political candidate and the audience laugh, I can only bow my head and grieve in great shame. My countrymen has gone to the dregs.”

In response to the CBCP chief’s rebuke, Duterte then claimed that he and fellow students at the Ateneo de Davao were once abused by priests.

“[Kami] sa Ateneo noon and I will tell you the abuses committed against the minors at that time including me and I will tell you my story. Kaming lahat dumaan kami,” said Duterte in Tina Panganiban-Perez’s report on “24 Oras” last Dec. 1.

For his part, Cruz, the judicial vicar of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) National Tribunal of Appeals, said he is currently handling more than 10 cases regarding abuse allegations against priests.

He admitted that given that the alleged incident happened many years ago, he is unsure if the church can still investigate on the matter.

He added, however, that Duterte should go ahead and give details to back up his claim.

Cruz said Pope Francis has created a special tribunal which will look into negligence of bishops in sexual abuse cases.

“’Yung mga obispo na hindi kumikilos kapag may pari sila a may maling ginagawa [ang dinidinig dito]. So ang target, hindi lang ‘yung mga paring gumagawa ng mali, kundi ‘yung mga obispo na walang giagawang tama,” he said.

He added that anyone who has been abused by a priest should complain before his or her respective diocese. (MNS)

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