GUADALAJARA, Mexico, JUNE 6, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñíguez, commenting on the widely publicized cases of sexual abuse by priests, lamented the tragedies but emphasized that the offenders are an absolute minority.
In a statement published by the Mexican episcopal conference, the archbishop of Guadalajara said, “The great majority of the Lord´s ministers are faithful and exercise their ministry in an exemplary manner.”
After describing the problem as an “extremely grave crime,” Cardinal Sandoval said the offense “must be denounced and severely punished by human laws, which also apply to priests as citizens; but it is also a grave sin.”
Programs to deal with abuse cases involving priests will be the key topic when the U.S. bishops´ conference meets next week in Dallas, Texas.
Cardinal Sandoval said: “When the abuse against minors is committed by a priest, it is even more grave, as the priest, by his office, is a minister of holiness, a preacher of evangelical morality, a guardian of good customs, and an example, with his life, of the people of God.”
Persons “with homosexual tendencies have always been prohibited from entering the priesthood,” he contended. “The selection of candidates for the priesthood is closely watched in seminaries, but sometimes the pretence and concealment of the aspirants or the negligence of educators, can result in the admittance to priestly ordination of those who are not worthy.”
“The priestly state is not a ´paradise´ for pedophiles,” he insisted. “This offense is sanctioned and punished. Henceforth, there will be more severity, as the Holy See has decided that every case of pedophilia committed by minister of the Church, must be immediately communicated to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
“If at times a bishop has been negligent, from now on this will be remedied,” Cardinal Sandoval emphasized.
“I believe in the Holy Church!” Cardinal Sandoval exclaimed. He said he is confident that this time of agitation permitted by God will purify the Church, “which, with the power of the Holy Spirit, will be able to overcome the mystery of evil that prevails in the world and sows maliciousness in all God´s children, including ministers.”