A priest abused as a teenager by the founder of the Legion of Christ Catholic order himself went on to abuse children in at least two cities in Mexico.
Fernando Martínez Suárez admitted to having sexually abused at least eight girls aged 6 to 11 between 1990 and 1993 at the Cumbres Catholic Institutes in Mexico City and Cancún.
As a result of an investigation by the sexual abuse prevention organization Praesidium, the Legion of Christ admitted to being aware of a number of acts of sexual abuse by Martínez.
It stated that the mother one victim accused Martínez of having abused her daughter in 1990 in Mexico City.
The priest admitted to having abused the girl and was suspended from his religious duties as a result, only to be moved to another city by his superior and founder of the order, Marcial Maciel.
He sent Martínez to the Cumbres Institute in Cancún, despite the priest’s request that he not be assigned to the post.
“I do not feel physically, spiritually or morally firm enough to accept such a responsibility with all of the recent precedents,” Martínez is reported to have said.
The priest was placed in the school anyway, and went on to abuse at least seven girls between 1991 and 1993. Six of the cases were fully documented, but Martínez admitted to having abused a seventh girl as well.
The Legion of Christ admitted Maciel himself had sexually abused Martínez in Spain and Italy in 1954 when he was 15 years old.
“Although he knew that Father Martínez had in turn abused others, Maciel decided to move him from one place to another and, ignoring the reservations from the regional superior and the priest’s own request, he named him director of the school in Cancún,” the Legion of Christ said in a statement.
“The community and the school were not informed of Father Martínez’s abuse. Thus, Martínez committed acts of abuse in at least two different places.”
When once again informed of Martínez’s actions in 1993, Maciel relieved him of his post in Cancún and moved him to an administrative position in Salamanca, Spain. It is not known if Martínez continued to commit acts of sexual abuse after the move.
The Mexican-born Maciel founded the Legion of Christ in 1941 and remained its general director until 2005 when he was forced to step down due to accusations of sexual abuse. There were suspicions over the latter going as far back as 1941, and he was investigated between 1956 and 1959, but nothing came of the investigation.
After Maciel died in 2008 it was revealed he had had relationships with at least two women and fathered as many as six children. He is alleged to have abused two of them.
Mexico has been identified as the country with the highest incidence of child sexual abuse by priests in Latin America. According to the Child Rights International Network (CRIN), there have been 550 complaints of sexual abuse against the Catholic Church in Mexico in the last decade.
Source: Milenio (sp)