Church in Brazil lost on child abuse

2012-02-08 21:18

Vatican City - Catholic leaders have "no idea" what to do about child abuse by priests in Brazil, where paedophilia is "more culturally tolerated" than in Western countries, a Brazilian expert said on Wednesday.

"There is no idea of what could or should be done," Father Edenio Valle, a psychologist who advises the National Conference for Brazilian Bishops (CNBB) and provides counselling for priests, told a Vatican meeting on the issue.

"Effective measures and procedures on the part of the Church in the short, medium and long term, as far as I know, are not being planned," he said.

"Underlying problems are not seriously debated," he added.

"There are no places of refuge, recuperation and care for the victims. Generally, they are just removed from the scene," he said.

Valle said there was a willingness in the Brazilian Church - partly due to the Vatican's insistence - to find "competent and urgent answers," but that this was made more difficult by greater cultural tolerance for paedophilia.

"This relative moderation in relation to the scandals of Catholic fathers is due to the fact that paedophilia and ephebophilia are behaviours that are culturally more tolerated in Brazil than in Europe and North America," he said.

Ephebophilia is defined as the sexual preference of adults for adolescents.

Valle said Brazilian bishops should take a clearer stance against sexual abuse in all its forms, as well as establish special committees to conduct research, oversee implementation of rules and provide support for victims.

The Catholic Church has been rocked by thousands of abuse scandals in recent years, mainly in Europe and the United States. Vatican officials warn that many cases in Africa, Asia and Latin America have not yet come to light.

The four-day conference at the Vatican's Gregorian University aims to apply in the Catholic Church more widely the stringent rules against abuse adopted in countries like the United States where abuses first came to public attention.

Read more on:    brazil  |  child abuse

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