At least 152 Catholic priests in Mexico have been suspended in the past nine years for sexual abuse against minors, Mexico’s Archbishop for Monterrey said, prompting a lawyer for alleged victims of abuse to question on Monday the Church’s sincerity.
“Some delinquent priests are in prison, others have been suspended from their ministries. In the last nine years, 152 priests have retired,” Rogelio Cabrera, Archbishop of Monterrey, told reporters on Sunday.
The Mexican Church’s announcement comes amid extensive sexual abuse scandals across the Catholic Church in countries including the United States, Chile, Australia, and Germany. Mexico is home to the world’s second-largest Catholic community after Brazil.
Pope Francis will receive bishops at the Vatican later in February to discuss worldwide revelations of sexual abuse in the Church, which have badly eroded the institution’s credibility.
Martin Faz Mora, a lawyer representing 19 alleged victims of abuse by a priest in the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, expressed skepticism about the Church’s announcement.
The priest, Eduardo Cordova, was the first to be criminally charged with child abuse in the conservative Catholic country.
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“It’s an irresponsible figure because victims are still waiting for retribution for their damages,” Faz told Reuters on Monday. “In no instance has the Church approached the question of repairing victims’ damages.”
Pope Francis has repeatedly promised zero tolerance for priests who abuse children but critics demand more action.
Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Delphine Schrank; Editing by Paul Tait