The Jakarta Post
Bishops Council of Indonesia (KWI) chairman and Jakarta Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo, who was just appointed cardinal, denied any knowledge of a report of sexual abuse in the Indonesian Catholic Church and questioned its “authenticity” during a Christmas press conference at the Jakarta Cathedral on Wednesday.
“I, as the archbishop of the Jakarta Archdiocese and as the chairman of the KWI, never received such a report. Therefore, if you ask me, I don’t know,” he told The Jakarta Post.
Weekly magazine Warta Minggu, published by the Tomang Catholic parish in West Jakarta, previously reported that at least 56 people were allegedly subjected to sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Indonesia.
The report, titled “Sexual Abuse in Indonesian Churches: An Iceberg Phenomenon?”, was published last week and is based on a discussion held at Atma Jaya University in late November.
During the discussion, KWI seminary commission secretary Joseph Kristanto said that, while he did not have definitive data about the number of sexual abuse victims in Catholic churches in the country, his team had received reports from informants about at least 56 victims.
According to Joseph, the perpetrators comprised 33 priests and 23 non-priests and many of the incidents occurred in education centers for prospective priests.
Suharyo criticized the report, saying that cases of sexual abuse should not be discussed in public. “Actually, if cases like these are not made public, it should not be talked about. It’s part of pastoral confidentiality,” he said.
He added that recording the number of victims who were sexually abused was a breach of the code of ethics, and speaking about the case in public was a gross ethical violation.
Regarding the pope’s decision to lift the pontifical secret rule in sex abuse cases, Ignatius said the new rule only applied to sexual abuse case involving minors and adults with disabilities.
“[The pope] is very strict toward priests who have sexually abused minors and adults with disabilities. Women are not included on the list. That’s because cases of abuse among adults are different,” he said.
Pope Francis recently released two documents that lift restrictions on those who report abuse or say they have been victims of sexual abuse, as reported by Reuters.
The documents, which put the practices into universal church law, effectively strip internal church proceedings, evidence and tribunal decisions of the secrecy protection.
Vatican News said the abolition of the pontifical secret rule included cases of violence and sexual acts committed under threat or abuse of authority.
Suharyo further said that even if there were cases of sexual abuse, the cases should be settled away from the court. “If there are [cases of sexual abuse], they should be resolved in the best way possible. They should not be settled through the police,” he said.
He also urged the media to be cautious when reporting cases of sexual abuse.
“We have to be extremely prudent with cases of sexual abuse because this is a problem that involves someone’s privacy. If the case is treated as a commodity, as news material that doesn’t account the moral factor, it could be dangerous,” he said. (mpr/evi)