The Bishops' Conference announces an inquiry into all 16 dioceses in the country. The Archbishop of Tokyo: "To demonstrate our seriousness and respond to the Pope's request for zero tolerance". Already in 2003, the Japanese bishops established the Department for the Protection of the Rights of Women and Children.
Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Coping with child abuse cases has long been a priority for the Church in Japan, which wants to make its "serious and transparent" commitment clear to the public, Msgr. Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi (photo), archbishop of Tokyo tells AsiaNews.
Two days ago, the Japanese Bishops' Conference (CBBC) announced a national inquiry into possible violence committed by members of the clergy. It will take place in all 16 dioceses of the country. The archbishop of Nagasaki and president of the CBJJ, Msgr. Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, announced the plan last April 7 during a meeting in Tokyo with men who claim to be victims of abuse.
"The Episcopal Conference - says Msgr. Kikuchi - was quite serious in dealing with cases of sexual abuse committed by priests and religious on children and women. Already in 2002, the Cbcj issued a statement "On the sexual abuse of minors" and, in 2003, established the Division for the protection of the rights of children and women. The Division welcomes the advice of victims and provides spiritual and psychological assistance through a team of professionals ".
In 2004, the CBJ carried out a national-level investigation into incidents of sexual harassment in the Church; the bishops published the Manual to handle such cases in 2013. "Therefore - continues the archbishop of Tokyo -, dealing with abuse has long been a priority for the Cbcj. We are aware that in Japan there are several cases of violence committed by priests and religious, including 5 that involved minors ".
Msgr. Kikuchi concludes by explaining the reasons that led the Japanese bishops to open an inquiry. "Unfortunately - he says - these days the public looks at the Church quite critically because of the many cases that have emerged all over the world. Furthermore, we realized that protecting and caring for victims is not enough. So we wanted to show our seriousness and at the same time respond positively to the Holy Father’s request for zero tolerance. The Cbcj is also very committed to protecting life, from beginning to end. If we talk about this protection, then we must put it into practice, not to abuse vulnerable people like children and women".