Updated 02:23 PM EDT, Wed, Aug 04, 2021

Catholic Church in Mexico Protecting a Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing 100 Children

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Mexico's Catholic Church is being accused of protecting a priest who allegedly sexually abused about 100 children.

During a press conference, a letter written by the mother of one victim was read aloud, according to EFE (via Fox News Latino). It was directed to Pope Francis, who is scheduled to visit Mexico in February.

In the letter, the mother asked the pontiff for justice for the victims in order to assure that "this doesn't happen again," the news outlet added. The accused is Rev. Gerardo Silvestre Hernández, whose first sexual abuse allegedly took place almost a decade ago.

Alejandro de Jesus of the Oaxaca Children's Forum said that "in 2006, Gerardo Silvestre abused a 9-year-old boy during a six-month internship" in San Pablo Huitzo, a parish in the southern state of Oaxaca, EFE further reported. De Jesus added that after that, "more than 100 victims were dragged in" during the years in which he served as a priest at seven different locations.

The Oaxaca attorney general accused Silvestre of abusing two boys from the indigenous community of Villa Alta, Mexico on Aug. 12, 2013, EFE added. The priest is currently detained in a prison while waiting for trial.

In Tuesday, the Oaxaca Children's Forum was joined by a number of priests and activists in accusing the South American country's Catholic Church for protecting Silvestre, according to EFE. The complaint is accusing the archbishop of Antequera-Oaxaca, José Luis Chávez Botello, for covering up the sexual abuses by not conducting a thorough investigation of the cases.

The Oaxaca Children's Forum has asked for sanctions for the Church, which is "indirectly" involved in the case. The group is also accusing the Church of "protecting the victimizers instead of safeguarding the victims," de Jesus said, as reported by EFE.

Among those who joined the press conference was Rev. Apolonio Merino, who condemned Silvestre's alleged crimes, EFE noted.

This month, a German attorney assigned to investigate the abuse of minors in a famous Catholic boys' choir in Bavaria discovered that 231 children had been violated over a period of decades, the New Yorker wrote. The lawyer, Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned by the Diocese of Regensburg to investigate the inquiry, found that there were 50 credible cases of sexual abuse. There are also a large number of cases concerning other types of physical abuse, ranging from beatings to food deprivation.

According to the New Yorker, the news got widespread attention not only because of its troubling nature, but because the Regensburg boys' choir director from 1964 to 1994 was Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI and is Pope Francis' predecessor.

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