Letter to Gabriel Dy-Liacco, Ph.D.,
New Filipino Member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

[This letter to Filipino psychotherapist Gabriel Dy-Liacco, Ph.D. from was emailed on February 3, 2015, in advance of the February 6-8, 2015 meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The letter was copied to Cardinal Sean O'Malley, commission president.See also's special report, Sexual Misconduct among Priests in the Philippines: Key Cases.]

February 3, 2015

Dear Dr. Dy-Liacco,

We are co-directors of, a Boston-based archival and research group that gathers and analyzes data about the global crisis of sexual abuse of children within the Roman Catholic Church.

Congratulations on your appointment to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. As you prepare to meet with the Commission for the first time this week, we are writing to share with you our new special report, Sexual Misconduct among Priests in the Philippines: Key Cases.

We respectfully suggest to you that there is no better case study for the Commission than your own country, especially in the aftermath of the Pope’s recent visit and his poignant encounter with abandoned children. We urge you to share and discuss this report with your fellow Commission members.

Our findings are cause for alarm. We have identified 12 cases of allegedly abusive priests that raise immediate concerns about child safety. At least half of these priests are still active in Philippine parishes, and none appears to have been laicized.

Worse yet, Filipino bishops know of the serious allegations against these priests but are keeping them in ministry.  And Filipino Catholics are being kept in the dark: no individual bishop and no one from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is releasing information about these allegations.  Our report cites:

* Rev. Joseph Skelton, Jr., a priest in Bohol who is still active and working with young people despite his bishop’s knowledge that Skelton pled guilty to sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old in the United States.

* An active parish priest in Laguna, Rev. Apolinario "Jing" Mejorada, O.S.A., who admitted publicly in 2003 to sexually abusing three minor boys a few years earlier

* Rev. Arwyn N. Diesta, an active priest in Sorsogon City, described to the Vatican by Los Angeles archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahony as someone who “should not be in any ministry involving young people.”

* Rev. Manuel Perez "Benildo" Maramba, O.S.B., a faculty member at a Catholic college in Manila, who is accused publicly of child sexual abuse in at least three lawsuits in the U.S.

Several of the priests we profile worked at some point in the United States but were banned by U.S. bishops following serious allegations of child rape and molestation. This points to a grave and pressing problem that the Commission must address: the wide variation among national bishops’ conferences in child protection standards and practices.  There is effectively a terrible discrimination being practiced: children in countries outside the U.S. and Europe are receiving weaker protection from the Church.  As you know, a key objective of the Commission is to identify best practices in preventing and responding to abuse.  True “zero tolerance” is one such standard.  We urge you to be its champion.

Indeed, the impunity with which Filipino bishops retain abusive clergy shows why the Church must have a strict and universal anti-abuse policy with mechanisms for holding church officials accountable. Cardinal O'Malley repeatedly has asserted the need for such measures, and last July, Pope Francis promised that bishops who fail children will be held accountable. 

1) In the Philippines, as in most countries worldwide, bishops and religious superiors are not legally required to report child sexual abuse.  Mandatory reporting to law enforcement must be part of a universal church policy.

2) In the Philippines, as in most countries, bishops and religious superiors make public no information about credibly accused priests. The public release of accused priests’ names, histories, and allegations, and of pertinent church files must be stipulated in a universal church policy.

3) In all countries, there is no discipline from the bishops’ conferences or from the Vatican for bishops and religious superiors who put children at risk or who deepen the suffering of survivors. Our report identifies several Filipino bishops who have dismissed credible warnings about the fitness of their priests.  An effective universal policy will require such bishops to be removed by the Vatican and their irresponsibility acknowledged by their national conferences and by the pope.

Please read our report closely and share it widely. We would be most grateful to hear of any corrections or suggestions for how we can make it more informative and accurate, and we would be happy to consult with you on this important issue.

We hope the information helps you, Cardinal O'Malley, and your fellow Commission members address the lack of transparency and accountability that still characterizes the Church’s handling of alleged sexual abuse in the Philippines and in most other countries in the world.

Best wishes in your new role.


Anne Barrett Doyle and Terence McKiernan, Co-Directors


Anne Barrett Doyle,, 781-439-5208 cell
Terence McKiernan,, 508-479-9304 cell


















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