The bishops’ conference of Mexico has called on the country’s government to get rid of the statute of limitations in cases of sexual abuse of minors.
“We want to ask in the name of the bishops of Mexico for there to be no expiration for this crime,” Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera, president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, said at a Tuesday press conference, according to the AP.
He added that the statute of limitations must be eliminated for cases of abuse of minors “since the wrong done lasts for the lifetime of the person who has been a victim.”
The bishops said at the press conference that 271 priests have been investigated in the past decade for sexual abuse, and 155 of those cases have been brought to civil authorities, the AP reported. Last February, Cabrera said that 152 priests had been removed from ministry due to incidents of abuse.
Current law in Mexico sets the statute of limitations for cases of sexual abuse against a minor at 10 years after the incident. Rogelio said the Church in Mexico accepts accusations of abuse up to 20 years after the victim becomes an adult.
The request from the bishops comes after a report released by the Mexican religious order Legionaries of Christ stated that since the group’s founding in 1941, 33 priests of the Legionaries of Christ committed sexual abuse of minors, victimizing 175 children.
On Jan. 13, the order announced that one of its priests, Fernando Martínez Suárez, was dismissed from the clerical state after being found guilty of the sexual abuse of minors by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Last month, the Apostolic Nuncio in Mexico, Archbishop Franco Coppola, gave out his personal email address and said that he would try to help anyone who contacted him about an incident of clergy sex abuse.