Victims of sexual abuse carried out by Catholic clergy in Argentina have been coming forward in the last two years much more frequently than before.
The Roman Catholic Church has been dealing with a sexual abuse crisis for the last several years, as victims have been coming forward more than ever before. Most of the victims were children when the crimes were committed, and one can only wonder how many were abused before victims felt empowered enough to come forward. Horrid details of the crimes themselves were bad enough, but the disgusting actions of church officials, who moved pedophiles from one location to another to protect them from secular justice have been revealed as well.
Argentina, Pope Francis’s native country, has seen a slower rise in victims coming forward, possibly because people in Argentina do not have the same kinds of legal tools available that people in other countries do. Since the beginning of 2016, however, there has been a dramatic spike in the number of accusations of priests and nuns, with at least 21 cases so far.
I wrote about one of these cases previously, where a nun was arrested in early May for helping priests rape dozens of students at the Provolo Institute for deaf children.
The Washington Post published statements from some of the victims who have been coming forward. One of them, Karen Maydana, was 9 years old when Reverend Carlos Jose first fondled her in church. She was there for her first confession in preparation for her first Holy Communion. Several years later, when she was a teenager, she tried to commit suicide which she blames on the trauma of what the priest did to her.
After two other women came forward to accuse Rev. Jose of sexual abuse, Maydana joined them. Maydana, who is 22 years old now, was quoted saying, “Unfortunately, there are many of us. But speaking about it now also gives you strength to carry on. I have a 9-year-old niece who’s receiving her Communion this year, and this is not going to happen to her.”
Anne Barrett Doyle, who is co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a U.S.-based group that compiles a clergy abuse database, said, “It’s a domino effect. What is really remarkable here is that the survivors in Argentina don’t have the same powerful legal tools that we see in other countries. And yet, we’re still seeing the significant increase in cases.”
Pope Francis has pledged “zero tolerance” for abuse within the Catholic Church, but as I have covered previously, earlier this year he lessened the penalties for clergy guilty of sexual assault. He has a strange idea of what “zero tolerance” means. But then again, creative interpretation is nothing new to religion.
While Francis sits on his hands, many of the victims in Argentina have said that they feel abandoned by the church. Hopefully their bravery in coming forward will protect other children from suffering the same horrible abuse.