OAN’s Geraldyn Berry
1:52 PM – Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Pope Francis has dispatched one of his top sex crimes investigators to Bolivia to probe into the growing clergy pedophilia crisis that is rocking the Andean nation.
A prominent representative of the church’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu, arrived in Bolivia on the same day a former Jesuit seminarian who has promised to give further information about suspected incidents of abuse, did.
Bertomeu’s visit, according to the Bolivian Episcopal Conference, was not directly connected to the most recent claims of sexual abuse but rather, was scheduled in advance to assess “the progress made in the field of the culture of prevention” which was supported by the Vatican.
The Episcopal Conference stated that the discussions in Bolivia “will be conducted in an atmosphere of profound closeness to all those who have been victims of the scourge of abuse in the Church.”
Monsignor Giovani Arana, the secretary of the Episcopal Conference, attested that Bertomeu “is a person of great trust to Pope Francis, who is responsible for addressing these issues, and he is coming to provide some guidance on how we can handle this issue, listen to and support the victims.”
Victims had been encouraged to register complaints after the prosecutor’s office launched a secret probe.
The Jesuit Society in Bolivia expressed regret to the victims and promised to assist with the probe, criticizing Pedrajas’ superiors for allegedly covering up what happened. It is reported that many of the superiors are no longer in charge or have passed away.
Former Bolivian Jesuit seminarian Pedro Lima, who was seen as a key witness, had promised to assist the probe.
“I am not only a witness but also a victim of abuses of power, sexual abuse, and abuse of conscience by the Jesuit Society in Bolivia,” Lima said. “Apologies are not enough, these abuses cannot go unpunished. There must be reparation for the victims, and I am here to ensure that these painful events never happen again.”
The visit took place shortly after Alfonso Pedrajas, a Spanish Jesuit, had his case made public, sporadic demonstrations have taken place in a few churches and Catholic schools in Bolivia.
Pedrajas was accused of abusing roughly 85 youngsters in Catholic boarding schools in Bolivia in the 1970s and 1980s, according to a private journal the Spanish daily El Pas had obtained. In 2009, he passed away from cancer.
Other outstanding instances have come to light as a result of Pedrajas’ case. According to prosecutor Wilfredo Chávez, “there are 23 priests implicated in pedophilia in the country,” one of them was only recently sentenced to three months in pre-trial imprisonment.
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