November 26, 2005

Sex-abuse scandal shocks Brazil's Catholics

Mail & Guardian

26 November 2005 09:42

A growing sex-abuse scandal is rocking the world's largest national congregation of Catholics. This week, a Brazilian priest was given a lengthy jail sentence after a court heard extracts from a diary that read like a paedophile priest's how-to manual. A magazine earlier published evidence that, according to estimates by Vatican investigators, one in 10 of Brazil's priests is involved in some form of sexual misdemeanour.

The signs of abuse in a country that is home to about 125-million Catholics will be of particular concern to the church hierarchy. Until now, Catholic leaders have comforted themselves with the belief that, no matter how battered its reputation in rich nations such as the United States, the church continued to be held in high esteem in the developing world.

Next week, the Vatican is expected to publish formally details of a clampdown on the recruitment of gay priests aimed at quelling concerns that the church has become a refuge for paedophiles. However, in Brazil many of the claims relate to heterosexual abuse.

Regina Soares Jurkwicz, author of Unveiling the Politics of Silence: Sexual Abuse of Women by Priests in Brazil, said the South American country could now be facing a problem of even greater dimensions than that uncovered in the US in 2002.

Posted by kshaw at November 26, 2005 09:27 AM