THE Catholic Church has vowed to "do all within its power" to investigate any claims of sexual abuse in the clergy after a Singapore-born female author claimed she was abused by two priests as a teenager.
"The church is deeply concerned with any report of alleged sexual misconduct by its clerics, staff and those who volunteer their services in the church," said the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore in a statement posted on its website yesterday.
It promised to use the "laws of the land and of the church" to see that justice is served and also said it "will not hesitate to take all measures to protect the integrity of the institution against those who seek to discredit the church and its family".
The statement came in response to a report by The New Paper last Saturday detailing the autobiography of psychotherapist Jane Leigh, 36, who moved to Australia from Singapore in 1995. Ms Leigh, a single mother of two who now lives in Melbourne, published her book My Nine Lives last year. In it, she recounts her encounters with two Roman Catholic priests as a teenager.
The first was a 34-year-old "extremely handsome priest" whom she met during a neighbourhood mass service held at her home when she was 12. She claimed that several one-on-one outings with the priest over a year eventually led to sexual abuse that lasted for 21/2 years.
"This priest sexually abused me. He took the opportunity to do so when we were secluded - when he came to my home to pick me up or when he dropped me off in the afternoons when my parents were at work. Then he toyed with my emotions, telling me that he loved me and that he wanted to be with me," she wrote.
She claimed that when she told her mother what happened, she was scolded for tempting the priest and, at her mother's insistence, was sent to a second Catholic priest for counselling.
Ms Leigh accused this priest of also violating her sexually at Mount Faber.
Attempts to reach Ms Leigh yesterday were unsuccessful.
A spokesman for the archdiocese said it was unable to comment on whether any individuals have stepped forward in response to the allegations. In its statement, the church said it "strongly prefers" that complaints of offences that are criminal in nature be referred to the police, so such cases can be dealt with appropriately through the justice system.
Ms Leigh told The New Paper that she was not likely to make such a report and was "not going to put myself through the pain and anguish".