The scandal rolls on—pray for our Church—in Puerto Rico this time, as a story from ABC News reports.
First, the Catholic Church announced it had defrocked six priests accused of sex abuse in the Puerto Rican town of Arecibo. Then, local prosecutors disclosed that at least 11 other priests on the island were under investigation for similar accusations.
Now, as U.S. authorities acknowledge that they, too, are looking into abuse allegations by priests on this devoutly Catholic island, many are reeling from revelations of abuse involving some of the U.S. territory’s most beloved clerics.
Puerto Ricans had largely been spared the lurid accounts of sex abuse involving the Catholic Church, and many had come to believe they were immune. But Barbara Dorris, a director with the U.S.-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the new reports mean it’s likely the problem is much worse than previously imagined.
“In general, these things tend to snowball because victims are afraid to come forward,” Dorris said. “If the priests have been on this island for a while, it probably means that it’s dozens upon dozens of victims out there.”
Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said last week that at least four dioceses are being investigated. He also warned he might file charges against church officials suspected of withholding information.
He described the situation as “truly scandalous.”
“We are not going to rest,” Miranda said. “We are going to capture them, we are going to process them and we are going to put them in jail.”
Allegations of sex abuse by priests are not new here, but the latest wave of investigations has dwarfed anything seen on the island of 3.6 million people, more than 70 percent of whom identify themselves as Catholic.
“People want to believe in the specialness of the priests, in the power of the priests,” said Richard Sipe, a California-based psychologist and former priest who is an expert on clergy sexual abuse. “The Latin American community is much slower in bringing charges against the priests. …The priests themselves are held in greater esteem, and the culture is identified with the Catholic Church more closely.”
Retrieved March 12, 2014 from http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/abuse-charges-roil-heavily-catholic-puerto-rico-22870983