For those who thought maybe the Catholic Church had finally managed to put its problems with priestly child abuse behind it, think again. They’ve now suspended a Ugandan priest who revealed a couple months ago that the African church has the same problem with pedophilia as the American and European churches do.
In going public, Anthony Musaala has forced the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda to confront a problem it had insisted didn’t exist. And he may stir a debate far beyond Africa’s most Catholic of countries.
The Ugandan priest has been suspended indefinitely by the archbishop of Kampala for exposing what he calls an open secret: Sex abuse in the Catholic Church is a problem in Africa as well as in Western Europe and North America.
The African Catholic Church is fast-growing, pious and traditional. As the church elsewhere forks out billions of dollars to compensate the child sex abuse victims of priests, few African Catholics have questioned the assumption, voiced recently by Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, that the African church is purer than its counterpart in the West, which is regarded as secular and permissive.
It’s not more pure, says Musaala. He says he has the evidence to prove it.
“The Vatican turns a blind eye because it doesn’t want to be embarrassed about this blooming church. But I think it’s time we had the truth,” Musaala says.
Musaala was himself the victim of abuse by a priest when he was a boy. This is a major test for the new pope, I think. If he actually represents any change on this issue, he should suspend the archbishop and reinstate Musaala.