At least 152 priests from the Mexican Catholic Church have been discharged or imprisoned for sexually abusing minors or keeping nuns as “sexual slaves” over the past nine years, according to the president of the Mexican Episcopal Conference.
“Some criminal priests are in prison, others have been fired by the ministry,” said Rogelio Cabrera López, the archbishop of Monterrey, during a recent event.
So far, Cabrera hasn’t released the names of the culprits, the percentage of jailed priests or the number of victims. The ambiguity prompted the head of U.S. non-profit Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests to reach out to Cabrera to demand accurate figures.
“It’s information that we’ve sought for years but everything seems to indicate that it was given from the Nunciature (the office of a nuncio in the Roman Catholic Church) because they don’t even have a registry of priest sex offenders in Mexico,” said Joaquín Aguilar. “These processes are orders by the Vatican. There are several aspects about which we need to be better informed, obviously to help the victims but also so as not to abandon the culprits.”
While some nations have strict policies to persecute sexual misconduct in churches, others are still figuring out how to stop the crimes. Mexico joins other predominantly Catholic countries resolving centuries of sexual misconduct in the ancient institution.
Cabrera agreed that a national database to better compile information pertaining to sexual abuse cases in the Catholic church must be elaborated. At the same time, he said it’s up to fellow bishops to formally report illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Pope Francis contends that he has a zero tolerance for predatory priests. As the credibility of the Catholic Church erodes and society demands action, he has planned a three-day summit from February 21 to 24 at the Vatican. Once again, the Argentine religious leader will address the growing matter with clergy members.
In Mexico, one of the most recent cases of alleged sex abuse against a minor in the Catholic Church involved Aristeo Trinidad Baca from Ciudad Juárez. The 76-year-old priest was detained by Chihuahua state police and put into preventative custody for suspected abuse against an altar boy.
Since the arrest, the victim’s family has received threats from community members claiming that Baca is innocent, going as far to pray for his release outside of Ciudad Juárez prison where he is being held.