The Catholic archdiocese of Mexico City on Thursday blasted the lawsuit filed this week in U.S. federal court accusing Cardinal Archbishop Norberto Rivera of shielding a pedophile priest.
The suit “is nothing more than a media and opportunistic deception, taking advantage of the adverse environment the Catholic Church is suffering because of the criminal behavior of some bad priests,” said the archdiocese in a communique sent on Thursday to Efe.
Rivera is named along with U.S. Cardinal Roger Mahony and Mexican priest Nicolas Aguilar in the suit filed Tuesday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.
Aguilar is accused in the complaint of committing sexual crimes against a Mexican boy in the mid-1990s, while the Mexico City and Los Angeles archbishops are alleged to have facilitated Aguilar’s transfer from Mexico to the United States, where he continued his abuses.
The Mexico City archdiocese said Rivera “has never eluded justice” in other cases presented against him in the United States, in which he “was exonerated because of the lack of jurisdiction of the U.S. court and because no evidence of his guilt was found.”
Regarding the list of 16 priests accused of pederasty who were in the United States and who in recent years are said to have taken refuge in Mexico, a list distributed this week by SNAP, the archdiocese acknowledged that one of them, the Rev. Lucas Antonio Galvan, was an active priest until Wednesday.
The communique says that Rivera “asked a week ago for a detailed report on the said priest” and, upon not receiving a response, the cardinal suspended Galvan pending an investigation.
The other priest on the list who allegedly was assigned to a parish within the Mexico City archdiocese, the Rev. Francisco Javier Garcia Ortiz, is actually working in the northern border city of Reynosa, Rivera’s aides said.
Separately, the head of the Jesuit order, currently visiting Mexico, said the Catholic Church is going through a time of crisis and radical changes in his only public appearance during his five-day visit to Mexico.
“We are facing a time of change that demands we question the methodology we are using to confront our problems and from which we cannot hide,” the Rev. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, a Spaniard, said Wednesday in a lecture at a Jesuit university in the western city of Guadalajara.
Without explicitly mentioning the scandal over sexual abuse by priests, the superior general of the Society of Jesus called on the roughly 18,000 members of the order to build bridges and seek reconciliation.
He asked the Jesuits to open the door to give more decision-making power to lay groups and to alter the clerical prominence that has become “an historic sin.”