MANILA - The Jesuits congregation is encouraging Davao City Mayor and presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte to come out and talk to them about the alleged abuse perpetrated by priests against minors in Ateneo de Davao.
READ: CBCP head rebukes Duterte for cursing Pope
Fr. Nono Alfonso, spokesperson of the Jesuits, said information to be given by Duterte will be handled properly and in utmost confidentiality.
He added that the allegations of abuse against minors will be investigated. He said abuse of the clergy has no place in the congregation in line with the mandate coming from Pope Francis himself.
The priest said he does not deny the fact that there were some abuses that happened in the past that did not come out in public after victims and their families kept quiet for fear of public humiliation.
However, he also noted that the cases of abuse done by priests are not that many and are rarely recorded because the victims chose not to have them recorded.
Fr. Alfonso also clarified Duterte did not finish elementary or high school in Ateneo de Davao and was in fact expelled due to misconduct.
Duterte has come under fire for an expletive-laden speech Monday that included Pope Francis. The mayor later admitted he regrets his actions and that he should have explained better his point on the alleged incompetence of the government in handling the traffic problems in the metropolis.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has said public officials should be visionaries who lead by example.
READ: Duterte: It was never my intention to disrespect Pope Francis
WATCH: Duterte claims abuse in Catholic school
Duterte, meanwhile, challenged his critics to a debate if they want him to withdraw from the presidential race.
He also threatened to reveal the alleged abuses of priests against minors in Ateneo.
"Sabihin ko lahat the sad story of the Catholic way dito," he alleged.
"Kami sa Ateneo noon, and I will tell you the abuses committed against the minors at that time including me and I will tell you my story."
Asked if he was abused as a child, he said: "Kaming lahat. Dumaan kami."
Meanwhile, the Jesuit community said it does not see Duterte's statement against the Jesuits as waging war against them.
The congregation said it is shocked that Duterte came out with his tirade.
Fr. Alfonso noted the mayor's mother was a staunch supporter of the Jesuits. He said Duterte had never engaged them in any kind of squabble.
The priest said the Jesuits' invitation to Mayor Duterte to tell his story extends to other Ateneo students who may have been abused in the past.
There is a prescriptive period of 20 years for filing information or case pertaining to sexual and other abuses by priests.