Mexican Advocacy Group Accuses Catholic Church of Protecting Child Abusing Priest
The child advocacy group Children's Forum Oaxaca held a press conference on Jan. 26. in which they accused Mexico’s Catholic Church of trying to protect a priest who currently stands accused of abusing dozens of children.
Joined by several clergymen, as well as activists, the group read from a letter written by the mother of one of the alleged victims. As El Pais reports, the letter demanded justice for the abused children and asked Pope Francis take steps to ensure similar abuses never occur again.
Pope Francis will be visiting Mexico on Feb. 12. According to World Religion News, Francis hopes to re-energize and inspire religious leaders with his upcoming visit and plans to encourage Catholics to embrace the teaching of the church without trepidation.
The pontiff has apologized for the church’s actions regarding child sex abuse before. The Guardian reports in 2014 Francis condemned the church’s handling of sex abuse scandals. He stated that the church’s failure to respond to reports of abuse by priests had caused the victims even greater suffering.
The Children's Forum Oaxaca specifically called out Jose Luis Chavez Botello, the archbishop of Antequera-Oaxaca, for his role in covering up the alleged abuses committed by Father Gerardo Silvestre Hernandez. Reportedly, Silvestre molested children in seven indigenous communities.
According to Alejandro de Jesus, a spokesman for the advocacy group, the Children's Forum Oaxaca has tracked over 100 of Silvestre’s victim in seven different locations. "We demand justice for the victims," de Jesus said. "These crimes will not represent isolated incidents and they constitute State crimes that hurt humanity."
Charges concerning two children from the indigenous community of Villa Alta were brought against Silvestre on Aug. 12, 2013. On Nov. 29, 2013, Silvestre was imprisoned in a Oaxaca jail, where he is currently awaiting trial and sentencing.
A release from the Children's Forum Oaxaca indicates Silvestre is allegedly responsible for more than 45 cases of pedophilia in Oaxaca.
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