According to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, the Philippines might soon see a spate of reports about some bishops and priests who are involved in sexual abuse scandals similar to what is happening in the US, Australia, Ireland, and elsewhere around the world.
While sex scandals remained largely unreported in the Philippine media, Tagle noted that more and more victims of sexual abuses involving bishops and priests are now coming forward to seek justice against their perpetrators.
Of course, the news about bishops and priests being accused of sexual abuse is nothing new at all.
In the past, we have heard a lot of stories, or even witnessed them ourselves, about priests having illicit affairs with single women or abusing minors or teenagers.
Apart from these sexual abuses, some bishops and priests have also been implicated with amassing unexplained wealth.
We are also aware of several incidents among secular and religious priests who are keeping mistresses and yet, continue to say the Holy Mass in churches.
But we continue to get shocked nonetheless.
This is so because when we have long remained silent about the controversy involving these erring priests who continue to violate their chastity and fail to live a moral life according to what they preach in the pulpit.
No wonder that our churches are getting emptier over the past decades because more and more people are getting so disillusioned, if not at all furious, with how these priests have been behaving themselves privately and publicly.
It is indeed about time that the Catholic Church in the Philippines should take a more decisive action against these erring bishops and priests who should be held accountable before our laws, otherwise they lose their moral ascendancy to guide us about crucial social issues.
Abuses involving bishops and priests have been debated for some time now.
But we have yet to hear erring priests get convicted and punished for the crime they have committed other than being reassigned to another parish in farflung communities or forced to take a sabbatical leave abroad.
Perhaps it is time that the Catholic Church in the Philippines should adopt a “one-strike” policy against these erring priests, that is they should be removed from the priestly ministry for even a single act of sexual abuse.