The Catholic Church of Singapore is implementing measures to reduce the risk of child abuse

SINGAPORE: The Catholic Church in Singapore is now reporting all claims of child abuse to the police when its own investigative team investigates such allegations, said the Archbishop of Singapore on Saturday (1 September).

In a message on the website of the Church about scandals about sexual abuse abroad, the most venerable William Goh said that a handful of cases had arisen in Singapore. "These were handed over to the Professional Standards Office (PSO) of the Archdiocese for investigation, so far all cases have been judged unconvincing by the PSO," he said, adding that there are no cover-ups to his best knowledge. Singapore.

The PSO was established in 2011, is staffed by "lay professionals" and the investigation is kept at bay by the archbishop, Rev Goh said. "This is to ensure full impartiality and non-interference of the archbishop's office."

The report also said that all allegations of abuse should now also be reported to the police when the PCA deals with the case.

"This is to discourage false or exaggerated claims that harm the innocent, because the pain of interrogation and life under suspicion while waiting for the verdict can be as traumatic for these priests as for those who have really been abused," said the archbishop. .

The church in Singapore has also introduced systems and processes to reduce the risk of sexual abuse. For example, all priests and employees must declare that they have not been convicted of sexual offenses. And those with known records "will not be allowed to work in the ministry or interfere with the vulnerable".

People who "want to join the priestly or religious life will not only have to sign this declaration, but will also be subjected to stricter psychological tests and background checks". Church volunteers, especially those engaged in children, should be "screened" and cleared of sexual crimes against children.

The strengthened measures meet the background of numerous cases of child abuse involving the Catholic Church around the world.

In his message, the Archbishop of Singapore emphasized last month's news that about 300 priests have sexually abused more than a thousand children in Pennsylvania over the past 70 years. Last month during his visit to Ireland, Pope Francis said he was ashamed of the failure of the Catholic Church to adequately address the crimes of sexual abuse by clerics.

Rev. Goh repeated those feelings: "With the growing number of revelations and devastating media reports, we can not help but start doubting our church leaders," he said, noticing that some people are ashamed of being associated with the Catholic Church. .

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