Latin Americans Clergy Abuse
ROSARIO, Argentina – Public Mass might have stopped across much of the world during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but several aspects of the life of the Church have continued, including efforts to prevent clerical sexual abuse in Latin America.
Evidence came in a Zoom conversation on Friday, with some 2,000 people joining through two parallel screens, plus many more joining through Facebook. It was organized by the Center for Child Protection of Mexico’s Catholic University (CEPROME) and the Vatican Safeguarding Taskforce, launched earlier this year. The event had the support of the Catholic bishops of Latin America.
To be sure, this was no ecclesiastical feel-good session. The talk was blunt and, at times, searing.
“Nowhere have I encountered the level of destruction I found within the Church,” said Chilean laywoman Maria Josefina Martinez Bernal, a member of the National Council on Abuse Prevention and Victims Accompaniment of the Chilean bishops conference since 2011, and a member of the Fundacion para la Confianza, an NGO founded by three survivors of former Chilean priest Fernando Karadima.
“In the name of the will of God, [Church officials] tricked people of faith,” she said. “In sacred places, they violated the trust of young people. Because, with a crucifix in the background, they didn’t believe the victims who came forth, or promised them to act, and didn’t.”
Participants were lay men and women, religious, priests and bishops, who have in common not only their Catholic faith but also their concern for addressing the Church’s clerical abuse crisis.