We have learnt recently of the interview given by Cardinal Wilfred Napier on BBC Radio 5. Regretfully, we have not yet had the opportunity to listen to the interview or to read a transcript. We have not been able to contact the Cardinal. It is therefore not possible to react to that interview.

However the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference is well aware of the devastation caused by sexual and other abuse of minors, both for the victims and their families and condemns all abuse unreservedly. The Conference has, for a number of years, had a protocol in place in which we outline how any allegation of abuse is to be handled. The Conference setup a Professional Conduct Committee which has published protocols for dealing with this scourge. The protocol is in force for all clergy and church workers in the region of the SACBC. For centuries there has been a veil of silence in the world surrounding child abuse and it is only in recent years that the matter is receiving the attention it deserves. Unfortunately there have also been failures on the part of the

Paedophilia is de facto a criminal offence and we will comply with the legal requirements when such cases come to our attention. Perpetrators must take responsibility for their actions.

Abuse of children is so widespread that there is an urgent need for a growth in knowledge and understanding of what causes an abuser to harm children, particularly when a perpetrator has himself/herself being a victim of abuse. Without such knowledge we will never be able to deal adequately with the matter and we will not be able to give adequate protection to our children.

Archbishop Stephen Brislin
President: Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference
16th March 2013

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