Mexican Cardinal Threatens Sex Abuse Victims

by David Nussman  •  •  August 21, 2018   

Cdl. Sergio Obeso Rivera says those who accuse clergy of abuse, cover-ups 'ought to be ashamed'

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XALAPA, Veracruz, Mexico ( - A retired Mexican prelate is blaming the victims of priestly sex abuse.

Cardinal Sergio Obeso Rivera is archbishop emeritus of Xalapa in the Mexican state of Veracruz. Pope Francis made him cardinal on June 28. Since Obeso Rivera is over the age of 80, he would be ineligible to vote in a papal conclave to elect the next Pope.

Members of the media asked Cdl. Obeso Rivera for his thoughts on priests being accused of pedophilia. His response was alarming.

At 2:13, Cdl. Obeso Rivera says, "[S]ometimes those who accuse men of the Church ought to have a little shame, as they tend to have a long tail."

The Mexican cardinal told journalists on Aug. 16:

I'm here, happy to talk about nice things, not about problematic things; it's an accusation that is made, and in some cases it's true. But the evil of many is the consolation of fools, because sometimes those who accuse men of the Church ought to have a little shame, as they tend to have a long tail [viz., that can get stepped on].

"The evil of many is the consolation of fools" is an old Spanish proverb, warning against hypocrisy. The cardinal's metaphor about "a long tail" essentially means abuse victims who come forward need to worry about their own sins instead, lest someone find their skeleton in the closet and "step on their tails."

Cardinal Obeso Rivera also said about priest sex abuse, "Nos sentimos mal y queremos mejorar." This means something to the effect of, "We feel bad and we want to improve."

The cardinal is on video with his comments.

Spanish-language news outfit El Universal claims the cardinal tried to change subjects, reporting, "The religious leader refused to continue responding on the issue of child abuse, preferring to talk about more 'beautiful' things."

Cardinal Obeso Rivera gave his remarks to Mexican press just days after the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which faulted hundreds of priests and religious of sexually abusing children. The grand jury report also faulted numerous bishops of covering up abusive priests — including Cdl. Donald Wuerl.

The Church in Mexico has dealt with its own share of priest sex abuse scandals — most infamous was the case of Mexican priest Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Maciel, who died in 2008, has been accused of molesting seminarians, having secret wives and children and even sexually abusing his own children.


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