The President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC), Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau has maintained the view that he is not “fully convinced” that allowing priests to wed would “curtail” the scourge of sexual abuse in the Church.
He believed that the scandal is a “fraction” of what is happening in society.
“…This is a human problem…. I really don’t believe that because any system does not solve human problems. …For a lot of what has happened in the Church because it borders also on illness (pedophilia) I do not think a choice for married clergy will solve the whole issue….” the Bishop said in an interview with the Director of Dominica Catholic Radio, Nazarine Gordon last month.
The crux of the 30-minute interview was on the bishop’s participation at the Vatican summit on the Protection of Minors in the Church, February 21–24. Bishop Malzaire was among 190 persons comprising presidents of episcopal conferences and general superiors of various congregations around the world.
Questioned on the Pope’s emphasis on the value of human formation, Bishop Malzaire commented that the importance of clergy attending pre-seminary sessions and “loopholes” which existed prior were highlighted.
“Even today, one of the areas that is being stressed in seminary formation is not simply theological or philosophical formation, it’s human formation….”
He continued, “Therefore, before one gets into seminary, you have to have psychological tests….”
In discussing the three main themes at the summit: responsibility, transparency and accountability, Bishop Malzaire said that the Church ought to accept that it is “culpable” and has “failed” people.
He mentioned one of the major complaints was that bishops “shove things under the carpet”. He also observed the practice of reassigning priests to another parish.
“What we are seeing right now is that that does not work. If people are not healed properly then those issues do not change…” he said.
On the other hand, Bishop Malzaire said that persons becoming “bolder” in bringing forth these issues is “good” as it gives the Church the opportunity to deal with the allegations.
The Bishop explained the method used in reporting abuse within the Church— the common norm system. He clarified bishops do not investigate allegations. Rather, the delegate of a review board investigates and presents to the bishop.
“He forwards it to Rome and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and they investigate it and give you [the bishop] their advice on it as how you proceed with it.”
On the issue of the disconnect between secular media and how the Church communicates on scandals, the Bishop agreed that there needs to be a “coming together” of both parties.
“Transparency is of importance…. if it had not been for the media we would not have been where we are. So everyone has a function…” he said.