On Tue, Dec 8, the Jesuit congregation confirmed that the priest who allegedly fondled Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte when he was a teenager was also accused of child abuse in the US.
In an interview with radio dzMM, Society of Jesus spokesperson Fr. Nono Alfonso, Jr. said they have verified the records of the late Fr. Mark Falvey, SJ, whom Duterte named as his abuser.
Duterte earlier disclosed that Falvey had been one of the Jesuit priests at the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU).
The mayor said the abuse happened once when he was a high school freshman in 1956. He said other boys were also molested by the American priest.
Duterte said he did not file a case because he was afraid of the priest. He was later expelled from the AdDU due to misconduct, and was sent to a distant school in Digos City, the Holy Cross of Digos, where he eventually finished his secondary education.
In the interview, Alfonso said Falvey arrived in the Philippines in the early 1950s, along with other Catholic priests who were exiled from China when Mao Tse-tung was installed as chairman of the republic.
Falvey was a school principal of the AdDu before returning to the US. He died in 1975, Alfonso said.
The Filipino Jesuit revealed that following Falvey’s death, accusations of child abuse surfaced against him.
“After his death, there were child abuse cases divulged. Both male and female victims were involved. The cases were not formally filed because he was already dead,” Alfonso said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Alfonso said Jesuits are sorry if Duterte suffered abuse from the priest. “We feel sorry if this really happened. If this really happened, this is a big blow.”
The priest also stressed that abuses against the youth have no place among the Jesuits. “Internally, we took note of this because we are in the business ministry of education so these things are not allowed,” he said.
Alfonso also pointed out that the Catholic Church has a protocol on handling sexual abuse cases.
Duterte revealed the alleged abuse after he was roundly criticized by priests and bishops for supposedly cursing Pope Francis for the heavy traffic triggered by the papal visit last Jan.
He later later clarified that he did not mean to disrespect the Catholic leader, and was instead cursing at the incompentence of the government in handling preparations for the latter’s visit.
The aspiring president also met with his priestly friends in Davao City, and promised to refrain from using foul language after talking with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles. Duterte took it upon himself to donate PHP1,000 to Caritas Davao for every curse he will utter thereafter. Jamaine Punzalan | ABS-CBNnews.com
This article has been re-published with permission from ABS-CBNnews.com.