Priest Sexual Abuse Allegations Spark Protests and Investigations in Bolivia

Protesters protest in front of the San Francisco Cathedral in La Paz, Bolivia. /reuters news1

In Bolivia, where about 80% of the population is Catholic, priests have allegedly sexually abused more than 100 people, including children.

According to foreign media such as AFP on the 8th (local time), Pedro Lima (54), who was sexually assaulted while training as a priest in the past, said, “The children lived in hell. Priests were angels by day and demons by night.”

He also said, “I scolded the young victims for ‘complaining’ and then expelled them.” “The priests brainwashed the victims into thinking that I was a bad and worthless person.” Local media reported that there are at least 170 people confessing that “I was a victim too” all over the country.

Lima claimed to have been expelled from the religious world after reporting the victimization, and said, “Afterwards, an investigation was conducted to compile a list of suspected criminals.” “It is not an act of deviation by one priest. There was a structure that turned a blind eye to each other so that (abuse) could continue to happen,” he added.

Petro Lima, who claims to have been expelled after reporting sexual harassment while training as a priest. /AFP Yonhap News

The controversy arose when the diary in the form of a “confession” left by Alfonso Pedrajas, a Spanish priest who died in 2009, was belatedly released. It contained a confession that Pedrajas had sexually abused at least 85 people while in Bolivia since 1971. It also included the content that the senior clergy knew about his crime and covered it up.

Currently, Catholics in Bolivia have acknowledged the allegations, saying, “We have been deaf to the suffering of the victims.” Local prosecutors have launched an investigation into allegations of abuse by priests, including Pedrahas. President Luis Arce has requested information from Pope Francis on sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy in South American countries.

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Earlier, a Bolivian court sentenced priest Juan Rocca Fernandez to 10 years in prison for sexual harassment the day before. Fernandez was charged in December 2021 with inappropriate physical contact with the young daughter of a woman he knew in his parish.

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2023-06-09 02:36:44

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