South Korea: Sex Abuse Scandal Rocks Catholic Church

The #MeToo movement has unearthed another scandal as a South Korean priest is the latest person facing allegations of rape after a woman came out to join the movement. 

Globally over the years, the Catholic Church has faced several sex abuse scandals as well as cover-ups by senior church officials who often ignored victims and protected predators but this is the first of such scandals which the church in South Korea had avoided. 

The accuser, Kim Min-kyung, made the allegations about the priest's sexual abuse on her which she said occurred during a volunteer mission in South Sudan, in 2011, when she appeared on television, earlier this month. She attributed her decision to go public being inspired by the global #MeToo movement. 

On Tuesday, South Korea's catholic hierarchy said it was devastated by the allegations and that the  priest had been removed from his parish pending an investigation. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) issued an apology, the second from church leaders in the last three days.

President of the CBCK while apologising to the victim, her family and those angered by the case, told reporters; "All bishops leading the South's Catholic church, myself included, have been left shocked, baffled and devastated by this incident." 

"The sex scandal of a priest who should honour the sacred value of celibacy… is utterly disappointing and shameful," as he vowed that any clergy found to be involved in any sexual deviation and hyprocrisy would face "stern punishment based on the laws of the church and society"

Kim, who at the time was a volunteer in South Sudan, helping to build a school and medical clinics said the priest repeatedly tried to rape her and broke into her room at night at one instance. 

"He pinned me down so that I couldn't move and said ‘I can't control my body anymore'," she told KBS TV. She added received no assistance from other priests at the mission when she reported the incident.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency while citing church officials said the priest admitted committing most of the abuses recounted by Kim. 

This is the latest revelation of sexual abuse in South Korea resulting from the #MeToo movement. An elite South Korean prosecutor, last month talked about sexual harassment she said she suffered at the hands of a colleague in 2010 on TV.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday, expressed his support for the #MeToo campaign, praising "the courage of the victims" and urging "stern punishment" for offenders.

Courtesy: AFP

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