Sex abuse claims against church: Church leader seeks clemency from abuse victims, families

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong at his home in Suva yesterday. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

The head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong yesterday apologised unreservedly for any sex abuse case perpetrated by the clergy or religious leaders.

He said he empathised with victims of sexual abuse and expressed great shame at the behaviour of church elders.

“On behalf of the Catholic Church I apologise to victims of abuse, to their families and to the Fijian society — for the hurts inflicted on them by some of our priests, brothers and lay workers,” he said during a news conference yesterday.

“This is a cause of great shame.” Archbishop Chong’s acknowledgment of the suffering of those who were abused by Catholic clergies follows a news segment on TV New Zealand, that the NZ Catholic Church moved to Fiji certain brothers or priests who had a history of sexual abuse of children. The segment also aired the testimony of a local victim of sexual abuse. According to the victim, he was abused as a primary school student in the 1990s.

“I empathise with their hurt, anger, trauma and feelings.

“I empathise with the pain that victims and their families have experienced and continue to experience.

“I empathise with the brokenness they have to live with and affect the way they relate to others. I feel angry.

“There is heaviness in my heart yesterday and today.

“My first reaction was not to want talk to the media. “On behalf of the Catholic Church in Fiji, I express our remorse for past failures and extend our sincere regret and deep sympathy to peoples and victims of sexual abuse.”

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