Colombia’s top Catholic clergyman told the government on Friday that the church would fight sexual abuse by priests against minors with a “zero tolerance” approach towards affiliated pedophiles.
“The protection of children and adolescents is an absolute priority for the Catholic Church in Colombia,” the Archbishop of Bogota,
Cardinal Rubén Salazar, wrote in a letter addressed to the government’s
Family Welfare Institute (ICFB) days after the church had come under
fire for sexual abuse charges filed against a Colombian priest.
his letter, the archbishop said that priests that engaged in child
sexual abuse would not just be held accountable before the law, but
also within the church.
“We applaud all the effort you make from
the general direction of the Institute of Family Welfare to protect all
the minors of our nation,” he said. “If it is true that the Church
bitterly cries out the sin of her children and asks forgiveness, it is
also true that we are committed to renewing all efforts so that these
atrocities do not happen again among us.”
Earlier this week,
Cristina Plazas Michelsen, the director of the ICBF, had sent Cardinal
Salazar a letter calling for the Catholic Church to “set a precedent and
express ‘zero tolerance’ to anything surrounding sexual abuse, the most
atrocious crime of humanity.”
It was in response to court proceedings
in Cali, Valle del Cauca, against a priest accused of sexually abusing four children in his community.
Salazar agreed: “The Church clearly and loyally adopts the slogan of
zero tolerance in any case that is denounced before our delegates of
protection of minors and to take all the measures so that those
responsible are punished both canonically and civilly. If the abuse is
proven, a priest can never return to his ministry. “