3 Jan 2019

Pacific bishops want to rid Catholic church of predator priests

1:00 pm on 3 January 2019

Predator priests will face the full force of the law, Catholic bishops in the Pacific say.

In Papua New Guinea, Fr Giorgio Licini said any cases of priests abusing children would be dealt with severely.

Fr Giorgio said an office had been established to deal with the matter.

Meanwhile, the head of the church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, said his church had policy and protocols in place for suspected sexual offending amoung priests.

Peter Loy Chong.

Peter Loy Chong. Photo: Pacific Theological College

"That has been the stand of the church and each conference of bishops has been instructed that we need to put in a policy for sexual abuse. We have a sexual abuse policy," the archbishop said.

"To see to it that when somebody is a sexual offender, that procedures are carried out so that this person is interrogated and taken to task."

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong and Fr Giorgio Licini's comments come in the wake of global outrage over hundreds of cases of children abused by priests.

They welcomed Pope Francis' call for priests who sexually abuse children to turn themselves into the authorities.

The Telegraph reported the Pope saying any "priest who abuses a child is a vicious wolf ready to devour innocent souls".

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow and asked for forgiveness, adding that the church was aware of the damage and would continue to tackle the problem.

Fr Licini urged people in PNG, who knew of any such abuse of children by priests, to report it.

"There is also a lack of awareness and we have to improve on that. On how people can react and act properly to deal with these cases," he told the National newspaper.

"This is for the church to fix so we help the families and communities and make our country a better place to live in."