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Official silence over sex abuse shameful – priest

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Fr Shay Cullen. Photo: Mark Condren

Fr Shay Cullen. Photo: Mark Condren

Fr Shay Cullen. Photo: Mark Condren

Irish priest Fr Shay Cullen says the Church and Government have been shamefully silent on child sex abuse for too long.

The three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee also said that “silence about child abuse is a crime”.

Fr Cullen has been working in the Philippines for the past 50 years, and was speaking about online child pornography.

He said there is now a new ploy being used by paedophiles to capture pornography called “sextortion”.

Criminals ask young people to expose themselves and perform sex acts in the privacy of their room before an internet connected camera, “thinking they are in a relationship over the internet”, the priest told the

“Unknown to them, the act is recorded in a distant country by the perpetrators, as in the Philippines, and the criminals then say they recorded it and threaten to make it public to his or her family and friends unless they pay the extortionist.”

Dublin-born Fr Cullen said that every image and piece of video captured of children in these circumstances “is a cruel criminal act of abuse”.

“The Church, the Government and civil society groups have been shamefully silent for too long,” he said.

The 71-year-old cleric from Glasthule said that mobile phone companies and internet service providers also had a responsibility to protect children by blocking the movement of these pornographic images.

In relation to Ireland, he said there was also “silence about clergy abuse”.

Noting that in itself it is “a big problem”, he feels that “no one has taken a step to do anything about the silence”.

He runs an organisation, Preda, near Manila, where young children are rescued from sex trafficking, housed and entered into education programmes.

It is funded through the sale of fair trade products such as dried mango, which is grown there and sold here.

Preda used to receive financial assistance from the Irish Government via Irish Aid, but this money was cut by the last Fianna Fail administration and was not revised by the new coalition.

jfegan@herald.ie


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