Bishop blames clericalism as one of the causes of child sexual abuse
August 1, 2019
Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, who is the Bishop of Mthatha in South Africa
as well as the President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference
(SACBC) has blamed, among other things, the scourge of clericalism prevalent in
some quarters in the Church as one of the causes of child sexual abuse.
Bishop Sipuka was speaking at the plenary assembly for 2019 of the SACBC
currently taking place in Mariannhill, South Africa. In his view, clericalism
is the “use of clerical status or power for
selfish reasons and getting away with it. In the case of sexual abuse, the
selfish reason is the perverted sexual engagement with children by priests with
impunity and being offered the opportunity to repeat the offence by being
covered up by the bishop and lay people”.
The SACBC, being an assembly of the Bishops of
Botswana, Eswatini and South Africa, has chosen the topic of child sexual abuse
for study during the current plenary session. To this end they are hosting Fr.
Hans Zillner SJ who has worked in this area for a number of years now. There is also a presence of some Bishops from
In the same address, Bishop Sipuka recalls the meeting
of the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences which took place in Rome in
February as a momentous occasion for the universal church in tackling child
sexual abuse. For him, the meeting in Rome was not just a face-saving scheme
for a church struggling with its image. On the contrary, the meeting managed to
also focus on the fact that such abuses happen even outside the church and as such the causes of abuse are
far more than mere clericalism.
The Bishops of the SACBC normally meet twice a year to
reflect on the life of the Church in their territory and this is their second
meeting for 2019.