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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: December 10, 2010
Victims urge Pope to lean on 2 key Catholic prelates
Victims ask Pope to force Mexican bishops to cooperate
Two top Catholic officials are ignoring sex lawsuits, they say
For 1.5 years, highest-ranking Mexican church staffer “evades the law”
A new child sex case, involving LA Cardinal & fugitive priest, is filed today
In an unusual move, clergy sex abuse victims are urging Pope Benedict to make two Mexican bishops accept service of a lawsuit charging them with ignoring and concealing child sex crimes by a fugitive priest.
And today a new civil lawsuit involving the same priest is being filed in Los Angeles. It charges that three top Catholic officials in LA and Mexico are responsible for the child sex crimes of Father Nicholas Aguilar-Rivera who police estimate molested at least 26 children in East Los Angeles.
In June of 2009 and April 2010, two other men have filed similar lawsuits involving Aguilar-Rivera. Those suits are still pending but are languishing because two accused wrongdoers – both Mexican prelates - are refusing service.
In all three cases, three bishops who supervised Aguilar-Rivera are named as defendants: LA Cardinal Roger Mahony, Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera and Tehuacan Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez. The latter two, SNAP says in a letter to Pope Benedict, are “ducking and dodging instead of abiding by the rule of law.”
“Plainly and simply, these two top Catholic figures – Mexico City’s cardinal and Tehuacan’s bishop - are evading justice,” said Joelle Casteix of Orange County, SNAP’s western regional director. “The actions of these two corrupt prelates directly contradict the words of the Pope.”
If Benedict refuses to step in, SNAP leaders say, he’s “essentially endorsing and condoning and encouraging this kind of obstreperous and hurtful behavior by others bishops.”
“If Pope Benedict is sincere in his promises to ‘do everything possible’ to stop clergy abuse crimes, he can’t ignore top church officials who delay healing and hide secrets by adamantly refusing to cooperate with the justice system,” said David Clohessy of SNAP.
In the earlier lawsuits, one of the alleged victims was abused in and lives in California. The other was abused in and lives in Mexico.
All of the Aguilar-Rivera victims are represented by St. Paul MN attorney Jeff Anderson (651 227 9990 work, 612 817 8665 cell) and Los Angeles attorney Anthony DeMarco (310 927 9277 cell). Documents about the cases are available BishopAccountability.org and at www.AndersonAdvocates.com
A copy of SNAP’s letter to the Pope, sent today by fax and e mail, is below:
Dec., 10, 2010
Dear Pope Benedict
We are confused and frustrated and hope you can be of help.
We were encouraged when, several months ago, you promised to "do everything possible" to prevent future crimes by Catholic clergy. We also took note several years ago when, speaking of the abuse crisis, you told Irish bishops, "it is important to establish the truth of what happened." And we have seen where, several times, you have spoken of the need to bring healing to those who are suffering because of the crimes of child molesting clerics.
We share those goals, as do the two brave men who are taking legal action against a serial predator priest and the bishops who, they believe and we believe, shielded and continue to shield him.
For months now, attorneys for the two men have been trying to simply serve lawsuits on two of those prelates: Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera and Tehuacan Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez. Until those lawsuits are served, and the justice process is completed, it will be very hard to "establish the truth of what happened." It will also be harder to “do everything possible” to stop the predator priest, Father Nicholas Aguilar-Rivera, from assaulting other kids. And it will be harder for these two men, and others who have been victimized by clergy, to heal.
To cooperate with the justice system, clear up these charges, and begin defending themselves (if they so choose), these two church officials have to do is sign a simple document and return it to a US court by mail. But they are refusing.
Their deeds directly contradict your words. Their actions conflict with your stated wishes.
These two are ducking and dodging instead of abiding by the rule of law. And if you ignore their misconduct, you are essentially endorsing and condoning and encouraging this kind of obstreperous and hurtful behavior by others bishops.
Your words sound good. Now it’s time to begin backing them with concrete actions. We hope you will instruct these two prelates to start cooperating with the justice system and begin acting like caring shepherds instead of cold-hearted CEOs.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests