US victims demand Vatican publish list of abusers

Pope Francis during the weekly general audience in Saint Peters Square, Vatican City, Rome, 15 May 2019. EPA-EFE/ANGELO CARCONI

WASHINGTON.- Five alleged victims of Catholic priests in the US, including three brothers, filed a lawsuit against the Vatican to make public the names of thousands of clerics who have been accused of sexual abuse.

The three brothers are alleged victims of Curtis Wehmeyer, a priest from Minnesota who in 2012 was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to a number of crimes, including sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.

Stephen Hoffman, one of three brothers who were victims of abuse by Wehmeyer between 2006 and 2012, said in a press conference that, with the lawsuit, they made public their history.

“I have too many nieces and nephews to let this happen to anyone else,” he added.

Another of the plaintiffs was allegedly abused between 1978 and 1984 by former priest Fidencio Silva-Flores, who the US accused in 2003 of abusing minors but was never prosecuted because he was in Mexico.

The lawsuit demands that the Vatican release the names and files of thousands of priests who perpetrated sexual abuse, the Star Tribune of Minnesota newspaper said.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Jeff Anderson, who has already tried sue the Holy See over sexual abuse, said that only the Vatican knows the details of the cases.

“We have developed a body of evidence that demonstrates that all roads lead to Rome,” Anderson added of the current lawsuit.

The Vatican said in 2014 that it had expelled 3,420 religious accused of sexual abuses of the priesthood, but did not release their names or surrender them to the authorities.

That figure, however, is far from the real one since in the US alone the Catholic Church has admitted there were more than 6,000 cases.

Last week Pope Francis ordered all members of the Church to report any case of sexual abuse and cover-up by bishops.

The new procedures were published in the «Vos estis lux mundi» (You are the light of the world) document and require all the dioceses of the world to create a system accessible to anyone who wants to make a report by June 2020, as well as the total protection and assistance for individuals reporting misconduct and abuse.

The new law is one of the «concrete proposals» the pope promised he would develop to eradicate the endemic abuse within the Catholic Church following a historic meeting on the Protection of Minors held at the Vatican in February.

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