Aguilar, who says he was sexually abused in the 1980s by a Roman Catholic priest in Mexico who is also accused of molesting some 50 other boys, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles, California last year accusing Rivera and Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony of conspiring to cover up the actions of Father Nicolas Aguilar (no relation).
Nicolas Aguilar served as a parish priest in the central Mexican city of Puebla in the 1980s, under then bishop Rivera, who transferred him to Los Angeles, where he served under Mahony for less than a year before fleeing to Mexico in 1988. He faces 19 counts of child molestation in southern California, as well as charges in Mexico, where he remains a fugitive from justice.
In early August, Rivera was questioned for nine hours in Mexico City by representatives of the U.S. court hearing the case and Joaquin Aguilar's lawyers.
Mahony, the head of the Catholic Church's largest archdiocese in the United States, was questioned last Thursday.
According to Desde La Fe, the lawyers of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which is backing Joaquin Aguilar, are motivated by profit, since they could expect to earn "the high sum of 40 percent of any damages" rewarded.
The article argues that civil trials in the United States are less rigorous than criminal trials in terms of standard of proof, and that compensation payments are based more on the feelings of the jury than on an objective decision.
Cardinal Rivera is completely innocent, says Desde La Fe, after reiterating that Joaquin Aguilar and his attorneys are only after money.
But anthropologist of religion Gilberto Morrillon told IPS that the Catholic Church in Mexico "is being arrogant by reducing a lawsuit for a cover-up of child sex abuse to a matter of mere money."
"It would seem that (the Church leaders) do not care about Aguilar's suffering or about the guilt of their priest," he said.
"Pedophilia is a very serious problem that has been acknowledged by the Church, which is why it finally had to give in and pay out millions of dollars in damages," he said.
Rivera claims that in 1987 he sent a letter to Mahony warning him that Father Aguilar might have "homosexual problems," although he said he did so in code, using euphemisms.
However, Mahony says he never received such a letter from Rivera, and that he employed the priest without being aware of the allegations he was facing in Mexico, and fired him when he was accused of sexually abusing young members of his congregation in Los Angeles.
In July, the archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay the landmark sum of 660 million dollars in damages to 500 victims of molestation by priests.
A total of 10,667 people alleged abuse by 4,392 priests in the United States between 1950 and 2002, and compensation-related costs for the Catholic Church amounted to 573 million dollars, according to a 2004 study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, "The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States."
The church sex abuse scandal erupted in the United States in 2002, with former victims speaking out and filing around 1,200 lawsuits since then.
Evidence, testimony and confessions from bishops in the United States as well as Mexico have shown that Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing minors have frequently been transferred from parish to parish, sent to rehabilitation centers, or simply removed from the scene by their superiors to protect the Church from scandal and avoid court action.
In Mexico, the country that has the second largest number of Catholics in the world after Brazil, no one knows for certain how many priests have been accused of child abuse, but the Church claims there have only been a few isolated cases.
Comments? Send a letter to the editor.
Albion Monitor September
19, 2007 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)
All Rights Reserved.
Contact email@example.com for permission to use in any format.