Girl Files Paternity Suit Against Priest
By the Mendoza Correspondent
April 10, 2001
-The priest is 30 years old
-The Catholic Church of Mendoza asked the public and the press to refrain from speculation
-The girl, now 18 years of age, became the mother of the baby eight months ago
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
Mendoza -- An 18-year-old girl sued a priest over the paternity of her 8-month-old baby. Coinciding with the start of Holy Week celebrations, the case has shaken the local Church, who asked the public to refrain from speculation and allow the law to reach a resolution.
The denunciation was confirmed by lawyer Dante De Oro, sponsor of the girl, whose identity is being withheld. She has gone to a family court where, in the coming days, DNA testing will be conducted to determine the biological link of her baby.
Reliable sources said the priest is 30 years of age and, toward the end of 1999, had a prominent role in support of railway employees of the town of Palmira, who carried out a prolonged strike in an attempt to avoid widespread layoffs.
For the last several months the priest has been in the province of Buenos Aires, his place of origin, where he is taking a professional development course, as stated by Father Ángel Álvarez, Press Secretary of the Archbishop of Mendoza.
The priest served as assistant to the pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, in the populous district of San Pedro in the department of San Martín. In 1998, he was assigned to lead the nearby San Pedro and San Pablo Church, in Palmira. In these circumstances he met the girl, who was 16. Growing up in a poor family, she attended high school and taught catechism to children in the area. She learned of her pregnancy on March 30th of last year, at which time she was 17. It later became known that her parents met with the priest to get an explanation. He promised to take care of the situation, but in August the baby was born and he wasn’t seen again.
Resident neighbors of Palmira said he “quit unexpectedly” and that his position was filled by another priest. The Church said he was transferred to the province of Buenos Aires for a pastoral mission and for studies related to his religious ministry.
It became known that, before departing for Buenos Aires, he went to the Third Family Court to submit to DNA testing. But the girl’s parents objected, framing the matter as a question of honor: they took issue with the priest for doubting their daughter. The case came to a standstill.
De Oro conceded the veracity of this sequence of events, but did not give it legal validity because “the priest only wanted to sow doubt and preserve his reputation in the face of rumors, and, as a result, it wasn’t an act of judicially fixing his paternity.”
However, Clarín determined that the priest said in court – and so it was recorded in the summary trial – that in the event his paternity was confirmed, he’d “agree to legally recognize” the child.
The case is being handled by Judge Adriana Beatriz Rodríguez, of the Seventh Family Court, who is substituting until tomorrow for the Court’s head judge, Elsa Galera. One of the two must decide whether to require to priest to undergo paternity testing.
Yesterday, the Archbishop of Mendoza, José María Arancibia, sent a lawyer for the Church to the Family Court to learn the details of the situation. The Press Secretary of the Archbishop said: “One must yield to the legal proceedings and not get caught up in conjectures.”