The apostolic nuncio in Mexico, Archbishop Franco Coppola, has said that anyone who wants to report sexual abuse by the country’s clergy is free to email him, and he will try to help.
Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language news partner, Coppola explained that “many times the people who have appealed here were victims who hadn't been listened to by those responsible for the Church and they come to the nunciature motivated by the commitment that Pope Francis has clearly expressed in favor of the victims.”
Coppola said the doors of his office are open to receive complaints and accompany victims “in their search for justice.”
The nuncio said that while it is not within the competency of his office “to conduct an investigation or take measures, what I have tried to do is facilitate the victim's access to the competent Church authority, whether on the level of the diocese, religious superior or the Holy See, accompanying the victim in his search for justice.”
Coppola stressed that efforts to prevent and fight sexual abuse by the clergy are “key because abuse is a betrayal of the very mission of the Church.”
“The mission of the Church is to make present a God who saves and these kinds of acts by committed by members of the clergy instead of saving and healing, wound and destroy people's lives,” he said.
“Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”
Coppola noted that “following the pope's instructions, the Church has been developing a 'zero tolerance' policy, in the sense of proceeding with speed; applying concrete measures against abusers and also punishing any kind of cover up.”
“Trust is going to be gradually regained to the extent that the faithful find the merciful face of the Father reflected in their pastors,” he said.
The nuncio also highlighted the guidelines developed by the Mexican bishops' conference “which detail the procedures to follow in these cases in accordance with Mexican legislation and canonical legislation.”
Specifically, they entail “listening to, welcoming and accompanying the victim in order to make the appropriate complaint,” he explained.
Regarding the canonical process, Coppola said that “the bishop has to carry out a preliminary investigation on the facts, take the appropriate precautionary measures so the alleged culprit can't be a repeat offender, and immediately inform the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome which will indicate to him to steps to follow in the penal process.”
“In the civil area, the bishop has to notify the prosecutor's office of the crime he has knowledge of, so that the civil authority can also take appropriate measures to carry out justice and exact reparation for the harm committed. It's the bishop's obligation to continue to accompany the victim and his family, ensuring them of the necessary psychological and spiritual help.”
On Jan. 7, 2019, the Mexican bishops' conference formally installed a National Team for the Protection of Minors. One of the team’s first tasks is to compile national statistics on sexual abuse by clergy.
At a Feb. 10, 2019 press conference, the president of the Mexican bishops' conference, Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera of Monterrey, reported that over the past nine years, 152 priests in Mexico have been removed from ministry for sexual abuse of youths or vulnerable adults and some, due to the gravity of the crime, have been sent to prison. However, he did not give further details on the number of those in jail.
The apostolic nuncio provided ACI Prensa for publication his e-mail address for victims of clerical sexual abuse in Mexico: [email protected]
A version of this story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.