Resumen: El caso del sacerdote abusador Padre Gerardo Silvestre Hernández


July 11, 2023

La traducción en español estará disponible pronto.

As a priest for the archdiocese of Antequera-Oaxaca, now-convicted child molester Gerardo Silvestre Hernández allegedly sexually assaulted more than 100 children at seven different parishes. He worked in Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte region, one of the poorest in Mexico, and many if not all of the children he attacked were members of the region’s Zapotec indigenous people. Silvestre’s victims were mostly young adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 14. Silvestre would get the children drunk, show them pornographic movies, and then sexually assault them. In 2009, a group of his fellow priests reported his crimes to the archdiocese, but Archbishop Jose Luis Chávez Botello maintained Silvestre’s innocence and retaliated against the whistleblowers.


In 2009, ten clerics of the archdiocese of Antequera-Oaxaca notified then-Archbishop Chávez Botello that Silvestre was sexually assaulting indigenous children in the poverty-stricken Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca. Two of the whistleblowers, Father Angel Noguera and Father Apolonio Merino, learned of 40-45 young victims of Silvestre in the small town of Santiago Camotlán alone. Silvestre also worked in parishes in San Pablo Huitzo, Villa Alta, San Juan and Santa María Ozolotepec, and he allegedly abused children in each parish, subjecting them to “obscene caresses,” oral sex and other assaults. Another priest, Father Manuel Arias, was able to videotape the testimony of three children who described how Silvestre had made them drunk and touched their genitals. Archbishop Chávez Botello’s response was to leave Silvestre in ministry and, reportedly, to retaliate against the priests who had complained about him. Nine of the whistleblower priests claim to have received death threats, and two were abruptly suspended from ministry. In 2010, the concerned priests sent a letter to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, requesting its intervention. The Congregation refused: in a letter dated 2/17/2011 and signed by its secretary, Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J,  it stated that it had found no credible evidence against Silvestre and that the archbishop had responded to the allegations in a timely and proper manner. 

In 2012, the mother of one of the victims filed a complaint with the Oaxaca Attorney General. On 8/12/2013, the prosecutor charged Silvestre with the corruption of two minors from the indigenous community of Villa Alta, where Silvestre had served at the parish of San Ildefonso. The abuses had occurred in 2009 and 2010. On 11/29/2013, Silvestre was apprehended and put in an Oaxacan jail to await trial. According to the archdiocese’s legal representative, as quoted in Vida Nueva, Silvestre subsequently petitioned the Vatican to be removed from the priesthood and the Vatican granted his request. His criminal case, however, stayed unresolved for several years. The whistleblower priests accused Archbishop Chávez Botello of using his connections to stall the criminal proceedings.

In January 2017, Silvestre was convicted of corrupting the two boys in Villa Alta by inducing them to perform sexual acts and watch pornographic films. A month later, on 2/24/2017, he was sentenced to 16 years and six months in prison. The judge also ordered him to pay more than 46,000 pesos in damages.

In January 2018, the archdiocese’s legal representative addressed the news media. He rejected the court’s finding of Silvestre’s guilt, saying that “it was never possible to verify that the former priest Gerardo Silvestre Hernández raped even one, [much] less than fifty children ….” He described the priests who had reported Silvestre as ‘compulsive liars’ motivated by greed.

A month later, on 2/10/2018, the Vatican announced that the Pope had accepted Chávez Botello’s resignation, which the archbishop had offered two years earlier at age 75, as required under canon law. As of this writing (June 2023), Chávez Botello remains archbishop emeritus of Antequera-Oaxaca.


Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca ha sido difamada: Chávez Botelloéxicoéxicoéxico/2018/01/08/el-padrastro-de-un-nino-victima-de-un-cura-pederasta-le-reclamo-cara-a-cara-a-un-obispo-mexicano-por-su-silencio/