Vatican sends abuse experts to Mexico to help church in safeguarding

Father Jordi Bertomeu Farnos and Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, who investigated clerical sexual abuse in Chile, are seen praying inside a church in Osorno, Chile, June 14, 2018. Pope Francis will send them to Mexico City March 20-27 to help church leaders with safeguarding and to listen to victims. (CNS photo/Fernando Lavoz, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After receiving a request from Mexico's bishops for assistance in handling cases of the abuse of minors, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is sending its top abuse investigator to Mexico.

Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary of the doctrinal congregation, will be accompanied by Spanish Father Jordi Bertomeu Farnos, a congregation official, on a visit to Mexico City March 20-27 to help church leaders with safeguarding and to listen to victims.

Pope Francis had sent Archbishop Scicluna and Father Bertomeu to Chile in 2018 to listen to survivors and investigate charges of abuse and its subsequent cover-up. Their report and supporting documentation -- totaling more than 2,300 pages -- helped correct the pope's belief that abuse accusations were exaggerated; after a later meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, every bishop in Chile offered his resignation.

Archbishop Scicluna and Father Bertomeu returned to Chile a few months later to help dioceses learn how to respond to cases.

[Don’t miss the latest news from the church and the world. Sign up for our daily newsletter.]

The March visit to Mexico City was not being described as a Vatican-led investigation, but rather a "mission" to offer "technical advice, fraternal assistance, dialogue that helps the church in Mexico" take "the right direction in the needed response to victims of sexual abuse of minors by clergy," Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said March 2, according to Vatican News.

Explaining the Vatican mission, the bishops' conference of Mexico and its national council for the protection of minors said, "We have tried to fight in a responsible, transparent and clear way against the culture of abuse and the system of cover-up that allows it to continue."

"This conviction, which comes from accompanying victims in their pain, seeking justice and healing, led us to request support from the Holy See through the apostolic nunciature," said a press release March 2 signed by Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez of Monterrey, conference president, and Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola of Monterrey, general secretary of the conference and general coordinator of the protection council.

[Want to discuss politics with other America readers? Join our Facebook discussion group, moderated by America’s writers and editors.]

They hoped the mission would help the church, and specifically its bishops, continue to safeguard minors, and improve the church's response to cases, "seeking the action of civil and canonical justice under the principle of 'zero tolerance' so that no case goes unpunished in our church," it said.

"We urge our brother bishops of Mexico and senior superiors of religious congregations to take advantage of this opportunity with the greatest willingness and openness," it added.

A communique from the apostolic nunciature, dated March 2, said a meeting for all of Mexico's bishops would be held March 20 at the bishops' event-center near Mexico City and a meeting for all members of the country's conference of major superiors of men and women religious at their headquarters March 23.

Archbishop Scicluna and Father Bertomeu were to be available to meet with "everybody who wants to contact them to share their experiences or to receive guidance or assistance" at the nunciature, it said.

Those interested in taking part were to contact the nunciature by phone or by email at nunciatura.mexico@diplomat.va.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.]

The latest from america

Evo Morales said Pope Francis called him to congratulate him on his party’s win after exit polls showed that the former Bolivian president’s top pick, Luis Arce, would win the general election.
Ricardo da Silva, S.J.October 20, 2020
Students at Boston College pray the Examen, while wearing masks and engaging in social distancing. (Photo courtesy of Joseph Vecchio and Emily Egan)
The coronavirus pandemic has caused campus ministries around the country to reassess how to best minister to their students.
Kevin Christopher RoblesOctober 20, 2020
In keeping with Italian law, all of the religious leaders, including Pope Francis, wore a mask except when delivering their speeches, which they did while keeping a distance from those listening.
Sister Campbell, the social justice activist made famous by headlining “Nuns on the Bus” tours, announced she will step down from her post leading Network Lobby this March.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 20, 2020