Letter to Pope Francis from Argentine Survivors of Clergy Sex Abuse
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. To see the original letter in Spanish, click here. To see videos, photos, and background information on Argentine survivors, click here.]
Buenos Aires, July 5, 2014
We are writing to you because, on the occasion of your upcoming meeting with survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, no Argentine survivor was invited to attend.
This fact pains us, considering that you must know about the cases here that have given rise to many years of struggle by victims, and about the new cases that have surfaced.
On a number of occasions you’ve pledged zero tolerance when confronting these cases; and so, this letter appeals to your sense of Truth and Justice.
As survivors of child sex abuse by clergy, we urge you to:
-Issue a decree that establishes as a criminal offense the commission and cover-up of child sex abuse by clergy. To that end, there must be an investigation of the bishops, archbishops, cardinals, monsignors and religious who have transferred pedophile priests.
-We also demand the nullification of the statute of limitations for filing a criminal complaint to the archdiocese, since, in Argentina, [the time within which to bring legal proceedings] is restricted to 20 years, dating to when the abuse was committed.
-In many instances the victims suffer from an emotional block and are unable to speak. When, finally, they do break the silence, no one believes them and the statutes of limitations in their cases have elapsed. We demand that they be believed: part of their emotional healing is being able to publicly denounce their assailant and his accomplices.
-You must correct the dangerous weakness in church law that allows bishops to keep [priests] in ministry. Two such cases involve Monseñor Ricardo Faifer, who covered up for Reverend Domingo Pacheco, and Monseñor Héctor Agüer, who covered up Reverend Ricardo Giménez. Not only these priests, but all other priests around the globe who have abused children. Case after case has seen repeated, systematic cover-up by both local church officials and the Vatican.
-We demand a genuine canonical trial for abusive priests and their accomplices, as well as a reliable investigation.
-The dignity and rights of victims around the globe must be reclaimed, their injuries repaired, their recovery complete, and their right to psychosocial development defended. One such case involves the boys who were abused by Rev. Grassi.
-Criminal and civil punishment must be meted out. One such example is [Gabriel] Ferrini, in whose case the Church has yet to comply with the civil penalty.
The sexual abuse committed by clergy implies that these satanic individuals utilize their vestments, religious authority, sacraments, and spirituality to manipulate, subdue, defraud, and sexually abuse boys and girls worldwide.
Their crimes have been defined by the United Nations Committee Against Torture as cruel and inhumane acts of torture, expressly prohibited by the Committee and considered as such crimes against humanity.
We sincerely hope that this time you listen to the demands from around the world and from your native country.