More than 1,000 allegations of clerical sex abuse have been lodged with a special office in the Vatican with staff struggling to cope with the backlog.
Officials inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – who are tasked with investigating allegations – said they are receiving reports of abuse from new countries which did not previously have a problem.
According to the CDF, the number of allegations has quadrupled over the past decade while the number of staff in their office has remained static.
Monsignor John Kennedy, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith discipline section, speaks during an interview on the terrace of the section’s offices at the Vatican. ‘We’re effectively seeing a tsunami of cases at the moment, particularly from countries where we never heard from (before)’
Mngr Kennedy, pictured, said he has received 1,000 files so far during 2019
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, pictured, is responsible for investigating allegations of clerical sex abuse within the Catholic Church
Monsignor John Kennedy, head of the CFD’s discipline section said: ‘I know cloning is against Catholic teaching, but if I could actually clone my officials and have them work three shifts a day or work seven days a week.
‘We’re effectively seeing a tsunami of cases at the moment, particularly from countries where we never heard from (before),’
Many of the accusations relate to historical claims, some of which are decades old.
Countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Italy and Poland have forwarded their first reports of clerical sex abuse.
Pope Francis took a step towards showing greater transparency with his decision this week to abolish the so-called ‘pontifical secret’ that governs the processing of abuse cases to increase cooperation with civil law enforcement.
The issue of clerical sex abuse emerged in Ireland and Australia in the 1990s, but was soon reported in the United States in 2002 and then across Europe and now Latin America.
Monsignor Kennedy, who witnessed the impact of clerical sex abuse in Ireland, said: ‘I suppose if I weren’t a priest and if I had a child who were abused, I’d probably stop going to Mass.
Msgr Kennedy said the Church was committed to fighting abuse from within its ranks and asked for time for it to be able to continue with its work
Monsignor Kennedy said: ‘We are going to look at it forensically and guarantee that the just outcome will be given. It’s not about winning people back, because faith is something very personal. But at least we give people the opportunity to say, ‘Well, maybe give the church a second chance to hear the message’
‘I’d probably stop having anything to do with the church because I’d say, “Well, if you can’t look after children, well, why should I believe you?”‘
But he said the Vatican was committed to fighting abuse and just needed more time to process the cases.
He continued: ‘We’re going to look at it forensically and guarantee that the just outcome will be given.
‘It’s not about winning people back, because faith is something that is very personal,’
‘But at least we give people the opportunity to say, “Well, maybe give the church a second chance to hear the message.”‘