DRC: Altar Boy Raped by Predator Priest Dies

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  December 12, 2022   

Coping International asks Pope Francis to visit bereft family on DRC trip

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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - While waiting for justice and a reply from the Vatican, a former Congolese altar boy, allegedly sodomized by a Slovenian homopredator priest, has died. 

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Former altar boy Jean-Denis Bolili Inyangi

Jean-Denis Bolili Inyangi, who reported Fr. Jože Šöemen's serial homosexual predation to Rome in March 2021, died on Saturday after "an operation to treat his swollen belly and tearing of the stomach," his cousin Maxime Yele said.

Bolili, aged 45, leaves behind six children and "a powerful testimony to the world" about his abuse and the fight for justice, the father of a victim told Church Militant. Doctors noted that he had almost a 30% chance of living. On Sunday, Bolili's body was buried in Mooto, the place of his birth.  

Demonic Act

"He destroyed not only my life but also the lives of many other boys," Bolili complained to Abp. José Rodriguez Carballo, secretary for the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. "Several other boys have known this same demonic act." 

Bolili revealed that he had been raped by Fr. Šöemen when he was around 15 years old, serving as an acolyte to the priest. "He had pushed me to touch his penis to ejaculate. And he had done many other vile things to me," the ex-altar boy wrote to Carballo.

"He gave us a very bad service because of his pedophilia," Bolili added. "He was terribly afraid. To calm me down, he gave me a sum of money. I no longer remember the exact amount." 

I ask you, as you did in Dublin, when you met abuse victims, to meet his grieving family and show the face of Christ.

From 1992 to 2001, Šöemen is accused of abusing or raping at least 50 altar boys while serving as the pastor of St. Emile's Church, Mooto, in the archdiocese of Mbandaka–Bikoro, Church Militant reported in September

According to email correspondence, police reports, as well as testimony from the father of one of the victims obtained by Church Militant, several victims died after Šöemen allegedly abused them.  


 

Šöemen, who is currently the parish priest of the Church of the Nativity in the Maribor archdiocese in Slovenia, has denied the charges. 

Plea to Pope 

Vincent Doyle, the founder of Coping International, an organization for marginalized children fathered by Catholic priests and religious, has appealed to Pope Francis on his forthcoming papal visit to the DRC. He says the pope should visit Bolili's family and apologize to Šöemen's victims. 

"I ask you, as you did in Dublin, when you met abuse victims, to meet his grieving family and show the face of Christ so they, and his soul, may have peace. For if they are not heard, this wound will fester interminable, which is wrong," Doyle, an Irishman, wrote to Francis.

I thank God for giving him the chance to tell his horrible experience of Fr. Šöemen's cruelty.

Doyle told Church Militant that Bolili's death is "a hallmark of absolute failure in safeguarding ahead of Francis' DRC visit." Church Militant obtained the names of 19 of the victims from a letter to Coping International. 

"Having died without due process, his death is a testament to the clericalism that has inebriated safeguarding on a global scale," Doyle lamented. "If you can't get safeguarding right, you can't get anything right!" 

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DRC police report with Bolili's and other victims' names 

Doyle told Church Militant that he reported these "criminal allegations, as I am legally obliged to under Irish law," to Carballo's office, but "the Church's response was to immediately become offensive" and "threaten me in my capacity as a mandated reporter." 

Victims Testify

Another victim sent this apostolate a copy of his complaint to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. He narrates how he was sodomized by Fr. Šöemen, who gave him "money and gifts with false promises" and "promised me to study [sic] at the University of Liege in Belgium to join my father."

"Consequently, I had health problems because of this forced sodomy orchestrated by this 'man of God,'" the former altar boy wrote. "I confronted him in 2001 in Mooto to force him to compensate me. Unfortunately, the former vice provincial of the Lazarists of Bikoro (2001–2009) had me arrested. He saw fit to smuggle him [Šöemen] back to Slovenia without doing me justice."

"I thank God for giving him the chance to tell his horrible experience of Fr. Šöemen's cruelty," the boy's father told Church Militant. "It was a way of saying to him: 'Death is the obligatory way of every man; rich or poor, protected or unprotected, having a good name or having a bad name.' ... However, there is only the name of God and Jesus which is wonderful."

Victims Not Interviewed

Father Janez Cerar, himself a victim of sex abuse and coordinator of Dovolj.je, an organization aiding victims of clerical sex abuse, reviewed the documentation, correspondence and testimonies of the Congolese altar boys and found the allegations to be credible.

It has been considered that there are no elements that imply the guilt of the accused.

The Mbandaka–Bikoro diocese said that it carried out an investigation "under the supervision of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith," but "at the conclusion of the investigation, and after reviewing all the evidence, it has been considered that there are no elements that imply the guilt of the accused."

In 2021, the Maribor archdiocese turned over the accusations against Šöemen to the police and the prosecutor's office, who dismissed the complaint because the statute of limitations had expired.

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Alojzij Cvikl, S.J., archbishop of Maribor

In October, Fr. Šöemen told Slovenian news media sobatainfo.com that the "insinuations, falsehoods and inaccuracies" directed against him "are baseless, and I deny them in their entirety."

"The statement that Mpia Bobola is said to have made is completely fabricated, and what Jean-Denis Bolili is said to have said is also untrue," the priest insisted. "Many people of all ages have asked for some kind of help from time to time, and I have granted them to the best of my ability, but never as a form of bribery."

"This summer, the archbishop informed me that a message came from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith from the Vatican that the results of the investigations were null," he added.

A statement posted by the Maribor archdiocese said that the archbishop was satisfied with the DDF investigations and had concluded that "the accusations were false with the aim of obtaining financial benefit." 

But according to Doyle, the authorities had not done due diligence in investigating the accusations, as not a single victim had been interviewed by the diocese or the DDF. 

Archbishop Carballo's office did not respond to Church Militant's request for comment. Church Militant earlier contacted Fr. Šöemen, Abp. Alojzij Cvikl of Maribor and the DDF but received no response.

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