The Catholic Church in Ghana has begun probe into various allegations of sexual harassment levelled against some of its priests.
It follows an appeal by a member of the Star of the Sea Catholic Church (Dansoman) to the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra over the issue last month.
Speaking on The Asaase Breakfast Show with Nana Yaa Mensah on Tuesday (12 October), Reverend Father Wisdom Larweh, a priest with special responsibility for investigating clerical abuse, explained that the complainant is not a victim as being reported in a cross-section of the media.
“Basically, they come in a couple of various forms, 1) sexual harassment, ie where probably there is some pressure on you to give in to sexual demand of whoever is making such advances, they could be possible cases of defilement, rape.
“We have had also the situation where minors, the vulnerable are also abused one way or the other. Until we conduct the investigations, we will not be able to have a clear delimitation of exactly the nature,” he said.
Larweh added: “But these are the ones that are usually perpetrated, this is not the first time such complaints have been raised. The Catholic Church is dealing with such complaints … in Accra we have had to deal with such instances as raised by the lady.”
Reverend Father Larweh said the church is unhappy with these concerns of assault raised by its members, adding it is doing all it can to address the issue and apply punitive sanctions where necessary. He further revealed the complainant will be granted the opportunity to put her grievances across.
French Catholic priests abused 216,000 victims since 1950
Meanwhile, some 216,000 children have been victims of abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in France since 1950, the head of a panel investigating abuses by Church members says.
Jean-Marc Sauvé was speaking at the release of a lengthy report into sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church.
He said the number could rise to 330,000, when abuse by lay members of the Church was included. One victim called the report a turning point in France’s history.
The scandal in France is the latest to hit the Roman Catholic Church, which has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals around the world, often involving children.
The French inquiry was commissioned in 2018 by the Catholic Church in France.
It spent more than two-and-a-half years combing through court, police and church records and speaking to victims and witnesses.
Sauvé, a senior civil servant, said that until the early 2000s, the Catholic Church had “showed a profound and even cruel indifference towards the victims”.
The commission found evidence of a minimum of 2,900 to 3,200 abusers – out of a total of 115,000 priests and other clerics.
Its report, which is nearly 2,500 pages long, says the “vast majority” of victims were pre-adolescent boys from a wide variety of social backgrounds.
“The Catholic Church is, after the circle of family and friends, the environment that has the highest prevalence of sexual violence,” the report said.
The BBC’s Hugh Schofield says the revelations will be very hard to absorb, and will have people reeling in France.
Most cases assessed by the panel are thought to be too old to prosecute under French law.