Expert says some Latin American Churches are doing ‘nothing’ about abuse

MEXICO CITY - When the Boston Globe released a shocking series of news stories about the clerical sexual abuse scandals in the city of Boston in 2002, Father Daniel Portillo was a seminarian.

When Mexican Father Marcial Maciel, the disgraced founder of the Legionaries of Christ who was found to have abused minors, died in 2005, Portillo was in Rome and saw how some members of the order founded by the late priest still labeled him a saint.

When the Catholic Church in Ireland was shaken to its core due to further revelations of the scope of the clerical sexual abuse crisis in the Emerald Isle in 2009, Portillo was being ordained a deacon.

Today, ten years after his ordination, he leads a ministry that is shaped by these events: He is the founder of CEPROME, an interdisciplinary center for child protection in the Pontifical University of Mexico.

The center organized a Nov. 6-8 workshop on child protection in Latin America.

Speaking with Crux on Sunday, Portillo talked about the seminar, but also about the impact the clerical abuse crisis has had on him.

“I wonder sometimes if we truly understand the seriousness of the problem, and I believe we don’t,” he said. “I don’t want to sound insensitive, but it feels like when a person finds out they have stage one cancer: They sometimes prefer not to talk about it, denying the diagnosis instead of accepting reality.”

Portillo also acknowledged that if he were a layman with children today, he’s not sure he would “continuously try for my children to be Catholics tomorrow, with a church that is not able to be transparent on these things or its finances.”

What follows are excerpts of Portillo’s conversation with Crux.

Crux: What did you think of the course? Was it what you expected?

Portillo: I feel very grateful to God, especially for the experience of being able to meet different people and institutions that are working for the same mission. Second, expectations exceeded what we thought might be, especially in regard...

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