SILENCE ABOUT CHILD ABUSE IS A CRIME. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 15 May 2014

Christ as the Man of Sorrows, Albrecht Dürer, c.1493

Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe [Web Gallery of Art]



By Fr Shay Cullen

There is growing international clamor for the filtering and blocking of child pornography and cyber-sex on the internet. The Philippine National Telecommunications Commission NTC) is under national and international spotlight for not implementing the anti-child porn law law since 2009. They have promised to do it by June, five years late. Why?

It was the death of a 17-year-old boy in Scotland that led to the international outcry and investigation into a criminal syndicate in the Philippines that uses the internet and cybersex chat rooms to extort money from youngsters but drives them to suicide.

They use young women on computers connected to the internet to contact and cajole young teenagers and older men to expose themselves and perform some sex act in the privacy of their room before an internet-connected camera, thinking they are in a relationship over the internet.

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 the victim to make it public to his or her family and friends unless they pay big money to the extortionist.

As many as 470 such cases of ‘sextortion’ (as it is called) was reported to police in Hong Kong in 2013 and 160 were exploited through this cybersex trap this year alone. But thousands more are ashamed to go to the police and they just pay.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Cunningham of Police Scotland told the media that he was acting on the request of the boy’s family to catch the criminals. With many more such crimes being reported, an international investigation was launched with the help of US Homeland Security, Interpol and Philippine National Police and it succeeded in arresting 58 Filipino suspects.

If the NTC makes good on its promise to enforce the 2009 Anti-child Pornography law, the foreign- and Philippine-owned Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would have to obey the law and block such disgusting images of trafficking and cut down the cybersex abuse. Children are used in this kind of internet abuse too and they are traumatized and damaged for life.

The criminals and many in government and industry laugh at the law and say the images are just child’s play; but it is criminal paedophile play. But they have never seen these horrific images; if they did they would be committing a crime just bypossessing and viewing them. So they have to believe the investigating police, the therapists and socials workers who rescue and treat the victims. What the common person and ISP money-taking tycoons must come to know is that the illegal content passing through their servers, computers,and cellphone towers is child rape and horrific acts of sexual abuse of children, some as young as three.

Every such photograph and video of child sexual abuse is a cruel criminal act of abuse. The fact that the ISPs and cellphone companies do not block the abusive images, where there are so many software methods to do so, is presumed to be for money. Their inaction and failure to follow, respect and implement the law is in fact an act of silence. Doing nothing is a grave sin of omission and complicity in crime.

Their silence is tacit approval. Correct me if I am wrong please. I and the nation would love to hear the side of the corporate tycoons and their shareholders that allow and enable this abuse to happen.

How can it happen when government are so strict and punitive to vulnerable and helpless street children and beats and jails them in filthy, infested prison cells? Are the good and honest executives of the NTC going to really implement the law?

They have stated that they will in June 2014. We are waiting to applaud and praise them. The ISPs and all internet service providers have to comply. It should have happened in 2010. Hundreds of thousands of children have since suffered abuse when they could have been saved.

Church, government and civil society groups have been shamefully silent for too long. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has made some lame statement but it falls far short of a loud, non-stop campaign, like that which some bishops and priests and lay-people mounted against the reproductive health act. They have sinned grievously against children by not speaking out and advocating the respect and implementation of the law to block child pornography and cybersex online. The law, if implemented, will greatly reduce  child abuse. Pope Francis has called for such action. Will the Filipino Bishops obey?

It is good to hear that in Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Bishop Pedro D. Arigo has spoken out, just a lone voice in the great wilderness of child abuse, calling for an end to ‘sex tourism’ and cybersex online. He needs many more to join his call and shout from the house tops as Jesus of Nazareth told us to do. Faith without action is dead, says St James in The New Testament. Our faith should drive us with courage to fight this evil and never let it grow and swallow our children.

Each one of us must answer for this. Blame others, yes, if there is clear evidence of abuse and exploitation but blame ourselves if we have done nothing to save the children and end the suicides.


Fr Shay Cullen’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and online.



Columban Fr Peter Doyle RIP

Fr Peter Doyle (died 21 March 2014)

The Good News Priest

by Fr Gary Walker 


Columban Fr Peter Doyle was farewelled from St Francis Xavier Church in West Mackay, Queensland by Bishop Emeritus, Rev Brian Heenan and a large contingent of priests and people who filled the Church on 2 April.

The homilist for the Requiem Mass was Fr Gary Walker, the Regional Director of the Columban Fathers in Australia and New Zealand.

Lima, Peru, where Fr Doyle worked for many years.

Since Fr Peter stipulated that he did not want flowers or a eulogy at his funeral service, Columban Fr Walker used readings to reflect the kind of priest that Fr Peter was. He was a Good News priest, like Jesus the High priest. He was compassionate and generous to the people whom he served and finally he was ‘a man of God’; a man and priest with a well-developed sense of humor who was nevertheless serious about the ‘things of God’.

Columbans in Lima, Peru, remember him with cash stuffed into his shirt pocket and clearly visible to anyone ‘on the make’. He was one of the easiest ‘touches’ in town and people came from far and wide to try their luck with Peter. He would give the shirt off his back to those in need and that of any Columban who left a shirt hanging from a chair in the priest’s house.

He was deeply appreciated by the parishioners because of his capacity to listen and empathize. His sense of humor was a great asset in his work and in the final analysis, he was a very humble man. He knew his limitations and still did whatever was requested of him.

Pioneer Valley, west of Mackay, Queensland

Peter John Doyle was a local from Marian, just outside Mackay, where his father was a cane farmer. After primary school with the Sisters of Mercy at Marian, and secondary school with the Christian Brothers at Yeppoon, Peter completed his teacher training in Brisbane and taught in Queensland State Schools for three years during 1959-1961.

He entered Pius X seminary in Brisbane in 1962 and was ordained a priest for the Rockhampton diocese in 1968 by Bishop Francis Rush at St Patrick’s Church, Mackay. His first appointment was as assistant priest in Bundaberg, 1969-1973, where he became friends with the Kinne family, (their son, Warren is now a Columban missionary priest in Shanghai, China).

Cane workers, Bundaberg, where Fr Peter served. His father was a cane farmer.

Bishop Francis Rush had a scheme of sending priests from the Diocese of Rockhampton to New Guinea. Peter spent three years at the Catholic Mission, Burlei, in Wewak Diocese. On his return, he was appointed to St Joseph’s parish in North Mackay, but after three years he asked for permission to become a Priest Associate with the Columban Fathers and was assigned to Lima, Peru. Six years later, Peter applied to become a permanent member of the Missionary Society of St Columban in 1987 and remained in parishes in Lima until 1998 when he returned to Australia.

Near Wewak, Papua New Guinea

Ill health became an issue for Fr Peter and in 2008 he retired to St Francis of Assisi Nursing Home in Mackay under the splendid care of the Franciscan Sisters. The nursing home became his ‘parish’ and each morning after Mass he would do the rounds greeting the people, staff and carers.

He celebrated his last Mass with some assistance on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March, and insisted on saying a few words in honor of St Patrick.

He died quietly on Friday afternoon 21 March in contrast to his sometimes boisterous life. He was buried in the family plot at Walkerston
outside of Mackay.

May he rest in peace.

Stained glass window of St Patrick

All photos, except that of Fr Doyle, are from Wikipedia.