Santiago archdiocese comments on priest sentenced for sex abuse

Santiago archdiocese comments on priest sentenced for sex abuse

The Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral in Santiago, Chile. Credit: Skreidzeleu/Shutterstock.
The Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral in Santiago, Chile. Credit: Skreidzeleu/Shutterstock.

.- The Archdiocese of Santiago commented Tuesday on the case of Father Tito Rigoberto Rivera Muñoz, who was found guilty in August 2018 of the sexual abuse of adults.

Rivera's victim claims that he told the Archbishop of Santiago of the attack, but the prelate gave him money and asked him not to report it.

The March 5 statement of the Santiago archdiocese's Truth and Peace Commission follows the appearance of the victim, Daniel Rojas Alvarez, on state television.

Rivera sexually assaulted Rojas, who was then about 40, in a room of the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral in 2015.

Rojas claims he told Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of the attack, who asked him to pray for the abuser, gave him 30,000 pesos ($45), and asked that he not asked him not to share what happened.

During proceedings initiated by the Chilean justice system, another victim reportedly presented photographs and videos that confirmed Rivera's abuse of other youths.

The Santiago archdiocese stated that it received a complaint of possible abuse of minors by Rivera in August 2011, but that during enquiries into the case “it was not possible to contact the complainant.”

The Pastoral Office for Complaints then received a complaint against Rivera from an adult in March 2015, which permitted the start of a preliminary investigation and the implementation of the precautionary measure of removing the priest from all pastoral responsibilities.

The preliminary investigation “was widened with new information that was provided to the Chilean Investigative Police, which included the possible theft of the religious objects.”

In August 2015, Cardinal Ezzati sent the information on the case to the apostolic nunciature.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the request of the Santiago archdiocese, “gave new instructions to continue the preliminary investigation and to start an administrative penal process” in September 2016.

The preliminary investigation was closed in November 2016, leading to the administrative penal process which concluded with the Decree of Condemnation of Aug. 16, 2018.

The priest was declared “guilty of crimes against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue continued  over time and involving scandal, with adults, as is specified in Canon 1395§1 of the Code of Canon Law,” the archdiocese said.

Rivera was suspended from public ministry for ten years, “only being able to celebrate the Eucharist privately and with the company of a person over 50 years of age.”

He was also prohibited from “meeting with or maintaining contact with young people” and was required not to move anywhere.

Once the ten years are completed, if the priest does not comply with the measures, he risks “being suspended for a greater period of time.”

The archdiocese also noted that these four penalties were “among others.”

It concluded, saying that “besides the canonical sentence which was implemented  in September 2018, an exhaustive review was begun to clarify all the information that was made known publicly.”

Bishop Luis Fernando Ramos Perez, an Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago and secretary general of the Chilean bishops' conference, has called the Rivera's abuse “repugnant, unacceptable and terrible. The question we have to ask ourselves is how a priest came to that.

Cardinal Ezzati has faced accusations that he was involved in covering up the crimes of other abusive priests, including Fernando Karadima and Oscar Munoz Toledo.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Tags: Clerical Abuse, Church in Chile, Sex abuse, Archdiocese of Santiago, Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati