Head of the Catholic Church Archbishop Peter Loy Chong.
The Head of the Catholic Church says it would be premature to conduct an inquiry into the reports of allegations of sexual abuse within the church.
While addressing the media this morning, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong says the claims of alleged sexual abuse of children reported by TVNZ’s One News dates back to the early 90’s adding that there would not be sufficient records to conduct an investigation.
The Archbishop says since he took up the position in 2013, the Catholic Church in Fiji has not received any reports of such allegations of sexual abuse against children.
“The common sense thing would be to conduct an inquiry but some of these people have passed on. So if people are alive what we tell the victims if there is a report and if it is a criminal case than we tell them to go to the police. That is our first response when there is an abuse of a minor.”
He says anyone who has suffered abuse by a priest or by anyone working within the church should, in the first instance, report the matter to the Police.
Archbishop Loy Chong says this is part of the guidelines to deal with sexual abuse that has been set up by the Catholic Church of Fiji.
The Archbishop stresses the Church should not interfere with the proper processes of criminal or civil law in an effort to address any allegations of sexual abuse within the institution.
“The Archdiocese of Suva is strongly committed to the protection and safety of all people, especially the vulnerable and children. The Archdiocese takes all reports of abuse very seriously and reports them to civil authorities where required, and investigate the accusations thoroughly and independently.”
Archbishop Loy Chong also highlighted that if any allegation is deemed credible, the accused is permanently barred from ministry and from serving in any capacity on behalf of the Archdiocese or any Catholic institution.
While setting the record straight this morning on behalf of the Church in Fiji, the Archbishop also expressed his remorse for past failures and extends his sincerest regret and deep sympathy to people and victims of sexual abuse.
Archbishop Loy Chong says the church apologizes unreservedly for any abuse perpetrated by clergies or religious leaders.