Vatican expert to go to Bolivia to examine the progress being made in sex abuse prevention

Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu Vatican's top abuse investigator Maltese archbishop Charles Scicluna (right) and fellow papal envoy Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu give a press conference at the Apostolic Nunciature in Santiago, Chile, on June 19, 2018. | Claudio Reyes/AFP via Getty Images

In the wake of a new wave of scandals due to allegations of sexual abuse of minors committed by members of various religious orders in the country, the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference has announced that Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu, an official of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, will arrive in the country to examine the progress being made in abuse prevention.

In a statement posted May 21 on their website, the bishops point out that they themselves requested that the expert priest come to the country. According to the bishops, the visit had already been in the works for three years.

The conference said that in the coming days “meetings of a reflective nature” will be held and that they will take place in “a climate of profound closeness to all those who have been victims of the scourge of abuse in the Church.”

The bishops reiterated their “firm commitment to justice” and their pastoral service to the most vulnerable.

Who is Monsignor Bertomeu?

Bertomeu works in the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Along with Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, he was a delegate of Pope Francis to deal with cases of sexual abuse in the Church in Chile.

In February 2018, the two investigated an alleged cover-up by the former bishop of Osorno, Juan Barros, in the abuses committed by the late priest Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican found guilty of sexual abuse in January 2011.

The results of the investigations by Bertomeu and Scicluna were delivered to the pope, who then decided to meet with all the Chilean bishops in May 2018. At the end of that meeting, the prelates of the South American country put their positions in the hands of the Holy Father.

Bertomeu and Scicluna returned to Chile in June 2018 as part of a “pastoral mission” to continue reviewing the abuse issues. Finally, some of the bishops were removed from their dioceses by Pope Francis and others were retained.

In recent years, Bertomeu has dedicated himself to giving conferences in various countries, seeking to raise awareness about the importance of abuse prevention and prompt attention to victims.

In March of this year, during a conference on “safe spaces” organized by the Venezuelan bishops, Bertomeu charged that the abuse of power is much more serious within a spiritual institution than in any other body, because it can totally destroy the person.

“You find a man, a woman of God who helps you make your vocation flourish. If that person is an aggressor, that person can completely destroy you. Therefore abuse in the Church is much more serious than in other social institutions, because the abuse is committed by someone who presents himself in the name of God. It’s the biggest perversion there can be,” he emphasized.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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