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Saturday, 4 May, 2002, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
More HK priests accused of abuse
Hong Kong
Hong Kong has been shaken by claims of abuse
The Roman Catholic Church in Hong Kong says two more priests have been accused of sexually abusing children, days after three clergymen were accused of a similar offence.

The chancellor of the Catholic diocese in the territory, Reverend Lawrence Lee, told local television the Church was investigating the latest allegations.

The church's image and reputation will no doubt be affected

Reverend Lawrence Lee
On Thursday, the diocese admitted it had received complaints against three priests after claims appeared in the South China Morning Post.

The allegations are the latest in a wave of accusations of child abuse by priests which have rocked the Catholic Church worldwide.

Reverend Lee told the Post the alleged abuses took place over the past 11 years.

The Church had previously said they happened over three decades.

Hong Kong police said they would investigate the claims "as soon as possible" and urged other victims of abuse to come forward, French news agency AFP reported.

None of the accusations were reported to the police before the story appeared in the newspaper.

Bribe denial

The diocese said two of the first three priests accused of abuse, whom it said were Chinese, had been suspended from their positions.

Pope John Paul II
The Pope met US bishops to discuss the scandal

The third, it said, had "reportedly committed a sexual abuse offence in his home country many years before arriving in Hong Kong", and had been barred from working with children.

"The church's image and reputation will no doubt be affected, but this is a fact we have to face," Reverend Lee told a television programme.

He admitted the diocese had offered the alleged victims financial aid but denied it was to buy their silence.

"We made such an offer in case the victims had financial problems paying for counselling or psychological treatment," said Reverend Lee.

He said none of the families had accepted the offer.

Global scandal

The Church has 300 priests and runs a similar number of schools and kindergartens in the former British colony.

Last week, the Vatican held an emergency meeting with American cardinals over the child abuse scandal engulfing the Church in the US.

Pope John Paul II has said there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.

On Friday, the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, US, decided against an earlier agreement to pay $30m to alleged victims of a former priest.

See also:

02 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
Catholic child abuse fears widen
23 Apr 02 | Europe
Pope condemns US church sex abuse
14 Apr 02 | Europe
Irish cardinal 'regrets' abuse
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