Hong Kong police investigate sex abuse by priests

Inside China Today/May 3, 2002

Police in Hong Kong said on Friday they were investigating reports of child sexual abuse by three priests in the territory, the latest in a growing list of worldwide cases that have shaken the Roman Catholic church.

"We will be meeting with church leaders to get a better understanding of the case, though we have not received any reports from any of the victims and their families," a police spokeswoman said.

She did not say when the meetings would take place. Church spokesmen were not available.

The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong said in a statement on Thursday that over the past 27 years three priests in Hong Kong had been accused of sexually abusing minors.

It said the first case involved a priest who had reportedly committed sexual abuse in his home country many years ago, long before he came to Hong Kong. There was no complaint, evidence or suspicion of any wrongdoing when he was in Hong Kong, it said.

He was recalled and barred from any ministry involving contact with children.

The priests in the other two cases were suspended from public ministry and one later left the priesthood, the church said.

It did not say if the priests had been found guilty, but added: "Any Catholic priest, working in Hong Kong, once proven to have committed even one act of sexual abuse of a minor, shall be removed from public ministry."

The South China Morning Post newspaper said on Thursday that internal church hearings found the priests had sexually abused children but none of the cases was reported to police.

Families of the victims received apologies and were offered financial help from the church, the paper said.

Hong Kong, with a population of nearly seven million people, has around 250,000 Catholics and about 300 Catholic priests.

Predator Priests

Accusations of sexual abuse have swept across the world in recent months, rocking support for the Church amid charges it does not do enough to protect children from predator priests.

A priest was arrested in San Diego on Thursday in connection with a sex-abuse scandal in Boston that has engulfed Cardinal Bernard Law and reverberated all the way to the Vatican.

Law and other U.S. cardinals were called to Rome to meet the Pope last month in an unprecedented council to discuss the scandal in America.

Recent reports of abuses in Ireland led to the resignation of one of its most high-profile Catholic bishops, Brendan Comiskey, for his handling of the cases.

In the Pope's homeland, Poland, Archbishop Juliusz Paetz quit following accusations, which he denied, of sexually molesting young priests.

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