“Shame and remorse”

Catholic Church in Mauritius: taking action against abuse © dpa

The Catholic Church in Mauritius wants to work up sexual abuse in its ranks more intensively and prevent it in the future. A letter to that effect was released Monday and will be read in all parishes, according to Vatican News.

In the letter to the faithful, the bishop of the capital Port Louis, Cardinal Maurice Piat, expresses shame and remorse for the crimes and their cover-up. At the same time, it informs about measures for reappraisal and prevention.

Among other things, it is about installed standardized procedures to be applied in case of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by church employees. These can be viewed on the diocese's website, he said. Also, "clear codes of conduct" have been agreed "for those who have responsibilities toward young people in the church". Anyone working in this area, he said, would have to undergo appropriate training and adhere to these guidelines.

Further education and help from experts

Piat wants to pay special attention to prevention and also ensure more public awareness for this. To that end, he's asking experts inside and outside the church to help him out. Separate training sessions "for priests, religious, youth leaders and the general public" are reportedly planned for June.

A committee is currently forming to address abuse and prevention, he said. It will gradually be strengthened by people from different regions of the diocese.

Involve women in particular

At the beginning of his letter, Piat confesses, "With shame and remorse, we must acknowledge the culpability of our church and its members." The full gravity of the acts and the damage they do were not recognized in time, he said. However, there can be no improvement without involving all the faithful. "We must confront clericalism as requested by the Pope and include the laity, especially women, in our reflections."

Pope Francis had appointed Piat a cardinal in 2016. In September, the head of the church wants to visit the island in the Indian Ocean. Beforehand, he travels to Mozambique and Madagascar. Just under half of Mauritius' inhabitants are Hindus, a good quarter are Catholics and around 17 percent are Muslims.

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Christina Cherry
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