Mexican clergy abuse victims and church working on protocol to prevent new cases

A Mexican NGO and the Catholic Church are working on a protocol to prevent new cases of clergy sexual abuse in the Latin American country, where hundreds of child and adult victims have been reported since the 90s
Mexican clergy abuse victims and church working on protocol to prevent new cases
Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes takes part in the inauguration ceremony as Mexico's new Archbishop at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City - Photo: Henry Romero/REUTERS
24/08/2018
17:26
Gabriel Moyssen
Mexico City
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A Mexican non-governmental organization and the Catholic Church are working on a protocol to prevent new cases of clergy sexual abuse in the Latin American country, where hundreds of child and adult victims have been reported since the 90s.

“We are finishing the protocol and there will also be a commission to deal with past cases,” said to EL UNIVERSAL in English Joaquín Aguilar Méndez, director and founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Chapter Mexico, who underscored the need to hear the victims’ voices in order to attain justice for all.

According to Mexican and Canonic law, he said, the commission would study cases from 2012 onwards, while the protocol would be presented in the next few days to the Archdiocese of Mexico thanks to the new policies adopted by its head, Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, since he was appointed Archbishop Primate of Mexico on December 2017.

“There was a positive precedent due to the Cardinal’s work in Mexico State and we have found a good response, we have worked well and this totally marks a break (with Aguiar Retes’ predecessor, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera), it is giving us confidence. There was no need to give in as somebody said, we have trusted them and they have trusted us”, stressed Aguilar Méndez.

In regards to the latest scandals of abuse in Chile and the United States, he considered that the apologies expressed by several Popes are losing strength because the church is not responding properly and cannot find its way out of the crisis.

“Is not only a matter of justice to the victims but a matter of a whole system of prevention and protection, that should be the focus. Hearing the victims would be the starting point to help. We need concrete measures and the dioceses’ authorities get a lot of space to handle things according to their own ways,” he said, adding that he is concerned by the practice still used of transferring accused priests to other parishes and by newly reported cases of cover-up and clergy protection in Oaxaca state and the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila.

Rivera Carrera and Mahony

In Mexico, SNAP has registered around 540 victims, yet it is believed there are “many more”.

In 2007, Aguilar Méndez accused Rivera Carrera on a U.S. court of colluding with the then-Archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony to protect during the 80s a priest named Nicolás Aguilar, wanted for multiple child rapes.

Rivera Carrera, once seen as a candidate to succeed Pope John Paul II, presided between 1995 and 2017 one of the world’s largest archdioceses.

However, his popularity plummeted after it was evident that besides his contentious relations with the Mexican political elite and his lavish lifestyle he protected Marcial Maciel (1920-2008), founder of the powerful Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement who had sexually abused boys and young men, not to mention his secret relationships with at least two women, fathering as many as six children.

Last year, Rivera Carrera’s spokesperson, Hugo Valdemar, accepted that there are six judicial complaints in México against the cardinal regarding his alleged cover-up of sex abusers spanning from 2014 to June 2017.

For its part, one of the victims of sex abuse in Piedras Negras, Ignacio Martínez Pacheco, is preparing a book about his “horror story” nearly 20 years ago in the northern city.

The book will include a list of 20 clergymen involved in a pedophile ring operating since 1990 in Coahuila, as well as testimonies from other victims.

Martínez Pacheco has focused his attention on child abuse victims, femicide, torture, and kidnapping cases; he told investigative reporter Karen Ávila from EL UNIVERSAL that just two months ago he was integrated to the federal mechanism for protection of human rights defenders and journalists, due to the attacks and threats launched against him.

In his opinion, the protocol that SNAP and Aguiar Retes are preparing will not work without justice for the victims. “The protocol will work when they open the 15 trial records that were left closed during Rivera Carrera’s departure from the archdiocese,” he expressed.

Edited by Sofía Danis
More by Gabriel Moyssen

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