Colombian bishop repudiates shocking abuse of boy at home run by nuns

The Bishop of Zipaquirá, Colombia, Héctor Cubillos Peña, expressed his “deep pain and his firm repudiation” of the “serious mistreatment” of a 9-year-old boy at a facility administered by the sisters of the Congregation of the Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Poor.

Cubillos also expressed the willingness of the diocese to determine the truth and serve justice. A doctor who examined the boy said the child had been the victim of “torture.”

The facility in question, the Monserrate Home, is independent of the diocese. The home says on its website that it is “a Catholic institution that seeks to provide comprehensive assistance, development and protection to boys and girls, who are at risk or threatened, through guidance to families, guaranteeing the proper development of the fundamental right to education, housing, food, healthcare and integral development.”

ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, tried to obtain a statement from the nuns but as of press time has not received a response.

In a Dec. 21 statement posted by the diocese and also by the website of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference, Cubillos expressed “on behalf of the entire diocesan community and on his own behalf his deep pain and his firm repudiation of this action against a child, a minor, affected by these actions of serious abuse and harm to his physical integrity.”

"Acts like these seriously injure a person’s integral well being and undermine their dignity causing very deep wounds not only of a physical order but also of a spiritual and emotional order that are very difficult to repair," he lamented.

Speaking to Caracol Radio, the boy's aunt, Paola Morales, said that the minor had been admitted to the Monserrate Home because he had "behavior and language problems, so they recommended that place to us and we left him there seven months ago."

They went to pick the boy up on Dec. 15 because his vacation was starting. However, “at night the child begins to cry, scream desperately and run around the house, he was touching his private parts, he wouldn’t let his mother look at him, so we took him to where the uncle was, when they examined him they saw that that his penis was bigger than that of an adult, it was swollen.”

At first they took him to the Engativá hospital, but due to the seriousness of the injuries, he was referred to the San José Hospital for children.

There the doctors said that the minor had a serious injury "as a result of torture, he hadn’t been able to urinate for ten days and that had to be due to the fact that they had tied his penis so he couldn’t urinate, which also gave him a bladder infection,” the aunt said.

Caracol Radio reported that the boy's family filed a formal complaint with the prosecutor’s office for the alleged abuse. In addition, the government of the department of Cundinamarca sent a commission to the Monserrate home to inspect it.

Cubillos said his statement that “this painful situation, in addition to so many that occur daily, are a call to the entire society, its civil, social and religious institutions and each one in particular to undertake actions of defense, integral development and prevention so that these incidents are not repeated.”

“The Bishop of Zipaquirá expresses to the affected child and to his relatives his profound solidarity and closeness in these moments of pain over what happened. He calls upon everyone to reject such violent behavior and pleads with the Lord God for the consolation and strength necessary so that from this deplorable situation strength, respect and solidarity may be reborn.”

“Although neither the Bishop nor the Diocese are directly responsible for the events since they are independent entities, the Diocese and the religious congregation, with regard to the administration, oversight and performance of their activities and services, do express to the public their willingness to collaborate in everything concerning determining the truth, the full application of justice” and for those responsible to make reparation to the victim and his family for the harm done.

"May the light that shone for the entire universe at Christmas reach with its brightness of love the hearts and lives of all human beings of good will," the statement concludes.

This story was originally published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language sister news agency. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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