09/27/2018, 14.42
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Catholic leaders meet in Bali to counter abuse inside the Church

by Mathias Hariyadi

The Working Group for Priestly Education organised a three-day conference in Bali. Priests and religious are called to pay particular attention to the victims. The consequences of such acts on minors make it necessary to have a "fraternal and compassionate" approach towards them and their families.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – More than 125 religious leaders and prominent figures in the Catholic community, including four bishops, took part in a forum to discuss the recent scandals that have struck the Church in order to find a solution so that they do not occur again.

The event took place in Bali between 18 and 20 September, organised by the Working Group for Priestly Education (Badan Kerjasama Bina Lanjut Imam Indonesia - BLBII), in collaboration with the Association of Religious Leaders (Koptari) and the Interreligious Forum of Priests (Masi).

The BLBII comes under the Seminary Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI) through which the bishops collaborate with all Indonesian religious leaders to design standardised shared protocols for priestly training.

Experts in psychology, religious education, psychological recovery programmes and legal issues presented the delicate issues treated during the three days of work.

One of them was the psychological conditions that push sexual predators to look for their victims, to which priests and religious must pay close attention. The consequences of such acts on minors make it necessary to have a "fraternal and compassionate" approach towards them and their families.

One of the forum’s goal was to provide answers to questions such as: 'Is it legitimate for the victims of abuse to ask compensation from religious congregations and dioceses, even when the sexual predator has been removed from the community?' or 'What are the legal consequences for congregations and dioceses that are subject to procedures under the laws of the state?'

These questions urgently call for a strict protocol in programmes promoting religious vocations.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Brother Rafael, Superior of the Brothers of St Mary Immaculate Mtb in Pontianak (West Kalimantan), said that "these issues now concern every religious congregation and diocese and must be taken seriously".

Guidelines are needed to help Church leaders when these problems come to light. "Most participants are shocked to learn that these illicit cases also occur in their communities," Brother Rafael noted.

For Sister Marsiana Nurhaini, Provincial Superior of the Passionist Sisters (CP), "the public accounts of the victims are truly devastating."

"This seminar showed me new perspectives and moral guidelines to deal with these problems,” said the nun who works in Malang (East Java).

“I had no idea of ​​their legal repercussions and I feel I have learnt things that are new to me, but already shared and put into practice by Church leaders. We must open our hearts and minds to what comes from outside the convent."

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