• James McTavish Verbum Dei
Keywords: Clergy Sexual Abuse, Filipino Church, Protection of Minors, Sexual Abuse Crisis, Victims of Sexual Abuse


At a global level, much valuable research has been published on clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Critical insights gained have highlighted the extent of the problem, and assisted the overall efforts to provide healing to victims. Pope Francis has been particularly active in encouraging the whole Church to confront the issue, and seek for much needed healing remedies. In the Asian context, the issue of clerical sex abuse is rarely approached. This is in line with a general continental avoidance of discussions in any way connected to problems regarding sexuality. This essay will first review some general considerations of clerical sexual abuse on the global scale before looking more closely at the issue in the context of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. Whilst some progress has been made in the Philippines setting, efforts are largely stifled by the cultural taboo of speaking out, the shame of revealing such episodes, the high esteem shown to the Clergy, and the reticence of the Church to vigorously investigate and pursue any such allegations. The recent legislation of Pope Francis (Vos estis lux mundi), which makes reporting of clerical sexual abuse mandatory, could hopefully go some way in encouraging the Church in Asia to respond more adequately in its mission of protecting minors and vulnerable adults.

Author Biography

James McTavish, Verbum Dei

James McTavish, from Glasgow, Scotland, has spent over 17 years as a missionary in the Philippines. He originally studied Medicine at Cambridge University, England, and qualified as a medical Doctor. He gained his Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (FRCSEd), before doing specialty training in Plastics and Reconstruction. He then heard the call of the Lord to heal the Body of Christ through evangelization. He completed his Licentiate in Moral Theology at the Alphonsianum in Rome and a Masters in Bioethics at the Regina apostolorum, graduating summa cum laude in both, before teaching courses at the Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila and in the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. He has published over 55 articles in international journals on moral theology, sexual ethics, bioethics, and spirituality, along with 10 books. He is currently the Provincial of his Verbum Dei community in the Philippines. 


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How to Cite
McTavish, J. (2020). THE CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE CRISIS AND THE CHURCH IN THE PHILIPPINES. Asian Horizons, 14(2), 289-306. Retrieved from