The Catholic Church doesn’t want sex abuse cases to expire in Mexico

The Catholic Church doesn’t want sex abuse cases to expire in Mexico
Priests enter in procession for a mass led by Father Eduardo Robles Gil, the new leader of the Legionaries of Christ order in 2014 - Photo: Max Rossi/REUTERS

The Catholic Church doesn’t want sex abuse cases to expire in Mexico

Mexico City
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In recent years, especially under Pope Francis, the church has taken a more active role in the fight against pedophile priests

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On January 14, the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico called on the country’s government to modify the laws and cancel the statutes of limitations for the sexual abuse of minors.

“We want to ask in the name of the bishops of Mexico for there to be no expiration for this crime,” said Rogelio Cabrera, president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference.

He called it “unjust” that nothing can be done about such cases starting 10 years from the date of the offense, “since the wrong done lasts for the lifetime of the person who has been a victim.”

Cabrera said the church admits sex abuse complaints up to 20 years from the time a victim reaches adulthood.

Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, abused dozens of children

For decades, the Catholic church has faced a large number of sex abuse cases in Mexico. One of the most astonishing cases was Marcial Maciel, who abused dozens of victims, including his own sons, for decades.

According to data presented at the news conference, the Bishops’ Conference has investigated at least 426 priests in the last 10 years, 271 of them for sex abuse.

Alfonso Miranda, secretary of the Bishops’ Conference, said 155 of those cases have gone before prosecutors, up about 50 from the number as of March 2019.

He noted that those are just preliminary figures and added that 217 priests have been defrocked, though without saying whether all were for sex abuse or other offenses.

Pedophile priests should be in jail 

Cabrera said legal and religious punishment for offenders is not enough on its own and that victims deserve compensation and guarantees of “immediate, clear and expedited” attention to their cases.

He added that the church’s usual response to isolating and transferring alleged abusers has been “unsatisfactory and dangerous.”

On January 13, the Catholic Church announced it had removed Fernando Martínez from the priesthood after considering he was found guilty of various sexual abuse crimes against minors, the Legion of Christ said.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decided that Martínez could not continue his priestly duties, however, he was allowed to remain as a member of the Legion of Christ and the church, a decision that upset his victims.

Mexican Church suspended 152 priests for alleged abuse

One of them, Ana Lucía Salazar, who had reported being raped by the priest when she was 8 years old, posted a poignant message to Twitter:

“The Pope decided that the gentleman continues in the church ranks after raping children,” Salazar wrote Monday. “There’s zero tolerance.” The punishment comes nearly three decades after the abuses were reported to Martínez’s superiors in the 1990s.

The infamous Legion was founded in Mexico in 1941 by Marcial Maciel. Reports of abuses by its members have been emerging for decades. In 2010, after Maciel’s death, the Vatican instituted a reform process following an investigation that showed its founder had created a system of power based on sexual abuse, silence, deception and obedience that allowed him to lead a double life “devoid of any scruples and authentic sense of religion.”

In December, the Legion released a report that identified 33 priests and 71 seminarians who sexually abused minors for the past 80 years. A third of those cited, including Martínez, were also victims of Maciel.

Victims criticize sex abuse report released by Legionaries of Christ

In November, the Legion released a document about Martínez that spoke of abuses that began in 1969 in Mexico City and continued through the 1990s. Cases have been reported publicly as recently as last year and include abuse of girls between the ages of 6 and 8 at the Instituto Cúmbres in Cancún. Salazar was one of those cases.

A persistent complaint of the victims of clerical abuse has been the lack of criminal sanctions against the abusers and those who covered up the abuse. Pope Francis has insisted that the church will not tolerate such conduct.

Martínez is currently in Rome and will be allowed to continue in the priesthood although he will not perform public duties.

Pope Francis lifts "Pontifical Secret" in sex abuse investigations


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