MEXICO CITY (CNS) — The Archdiocese of Mexico City and SNAP Mexico — the Mexican chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — have agreed to work cooperatively to protect children, promote healing and pursue justice in the cases of pedophile prelates.
The archdiocese and SNAP Mexico said in a joint statement June 4 that they “will be working to promote initiatives related to strengthening practices to protect children, young people and adults at risk against sexual abuse, along with promoting local responsibility in churches and vulnerable areas.”
The tasks to be undertaken by the two organizations include developing protocols to “help victims, to create consciousness and educate people on the need to protect children.”
The statement, signed by Marilu Esponda, archdiocesan communications director, and Joaquin Aguilar Mendez, SNAP Mexico director, concluded, “We want to publicly manifest our willingness to combat, starting at the root, these regrettable cases and work tirelessly until these situations are healed.”
Recently installed Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes of Mexico City has promised zero tolerance and transparency in cases of clerical sexual abuse and told Mexican news service Notimex that such an approach “will help that there are fewer cases.”
Accusations of inaction and covering up cases of clerical sexual abuse plagued the archdiocese under its longtime leader, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera.
A complaint lodged with the attorney general’s office in June 2016 — based on statements made by Cardinal Rivera — alleged the cardinal had sent the cases of 15 priests accused of sexual abuse to the Vatican, but not to civil authorities.
Cardinal Rivera denied any wrongdoing; no charges ever were filed.
The cooperation with SNAP Mexico followed years of acrimonious relations between the organization and archdiocese.
Aguilar Mendez accused Cardinal Rivera in a U.S. court of sending a now-laicized priest, Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where the priest subsequently was accused of committing crimes against children.
The case was dismissed in 2007 on grounds the court had no jurisdiction in the matter.
An archdiocesan spokesman later accused Aguilar Mendez — a former altar boy, who says he was sexually abused at age 13 by Aguilar Rivera — of lying about his own history of suffering. Aguilar Rivera, who is unrelated to Cardinal Rivera and Aguilar Mendez, remains at large.
Church observers called the rapprochement between the archdiocese and Aguilar Mendez significant and a sign of the Mexican church’s increasing seriousness in combating sexual abuse.
“It marks a huge difference with Norberto Rivera’s attitude,” said Rodolfo Soriano-Nunez, a sociologist who studies the Catholic Church. “It also implies an acknowledgment that existing systems [for preventing abuse] need at least some tweaking.”
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