Tuesday's day of prayer for victims of sexual abuse. Tuesday's day of prayer for victims of sexual abuse.

‘We’re not martyrs but victims of priests’

Victims of sexual abuse reject Catholic Church's description

The Catholic Church called them martyrs Tuesday but two of them rejected the label, calling themselves “victims of priests” instead.

Joaquín Aguilar and Jesús Romero Colín declared that rather than being martyrs they are the victims of clergymen whose crimes have been covered up by Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera.

The two said their own history of sexual abuse has been repeated in recent cases of sexual assault by priests in the cities of Oaxaca, San Luis Potosí and León, and that bishops have opted to protect the Catholic Church’s image instead of supporting the victims and seeking justice.

Three new cases of priests being accused of sexual abuse have come to light since last September.

Victims were referred to as “present-day martyrs” during a special “day of prayer” organized Tuesday by the church. It was the first time the Mexican Episcopal Conference, the church’s official leadership body, has publicly acknowledged irregularities in the follow-up of cases of pedophilia.

In addition to describing the victims as martyrs, the conference called them “victims of a clerical structure with symptoms of excessive power, of silent spectators and of cover-ups and complicity.”

Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola, the conference’s secretary general, said the church hierarchy had behaved incorrectly in addressing pedophilia, for which “the church asks for justice” and that “there be no impunity.”

For Aguilar, whose alleged attacker was arrested last September 20 years after the abuse took place, the day of prayer was the same as doing nothing at all.

“In reality, what they have to do is carry out an investigation within the church and find the criminals so they can be thrown out and held accountable before civilian authorities.”

Former priest Alberto Athié Gallo, representing victims of clerical pedophilia in Mexico, pointed out that the victims “are not martyrs because these children did not offer themselves to die for Christ, the church or their faith . . . they’re victims seeking justice and the truth.”

The director of the Network for Children’s Rights in Mexico, Juan Pérez García, stated that regardless of “spiritual damage reparations, what’s needed is justice on this Earth.”

The Catholic Church’s statement reflects how “little seriousness is given by them to the issue; they should turn the pedophile priests in, not hide them.”

The president of the Chamber of Deputies’ commission on children’s rights concurred with Pérez, demanding that Catholic prelates give up the pedophile priests “it has hidden in its churches,” despite being aware of the repeated accusations of sexual abuse made by its own parishioners.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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