Last February Tempo Timor revealed that former priest R.D. sexually abused young girls in the shelter Topu Honis which he had set up in Kutet, in Oecusse. R.D. was arrested in April and is currently under investigation by the justice system. He is now living in the residence of the SVD congregation in the western town of Maliana.
Fokupers points out that the church is ‘fully aware’ that for a number of years sexual abuse in the orphanage took place, as the Vatican dismissed ‘the perpetrator from priesthood’ last year after his confession before the church authorities.
Fokupers asks the archbishop to visit the shelter in Oecusse to show his solidarity with the children in the shelter. ‘The perpetrator of the abuse used his authority as a priest to violate the body of girls, so the Church should show to the entire community and Catholic population, especially the victims, that the Church does not stand with the perpetrator, but that the church is on the side of the victims,’ Fokupers states.
The NGO believes that the church ‘needs to make an effort to send a clear message of support to all children and youngsters who are currently living and who have lived in the orphanage, as all of these girls and women are potential victims of abuse.’ According to Fokupers the church needs to tell the victims: “You can speak up, no need to fear, we are here to support you”.’
Fokupers believes that this support will represent ‘an essential step’ showing that the church ‘is really serious to ensure that this case is brought to justice.’