Six Jesuits reportedly under investigation for cover-up of sexual abuse in Bolivia


Jesuits accused of abuse in Bolivia in May 2023. / Credit: EWTN News

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 7, 2023 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

In addition to allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by a number of deceased Jesuits in Bolivia, six others, including the current provincial superior, are now reportedly under investigation for cover-up.

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Gabriel Chávez, external communications consultant for the Jesuits in Bolivia, said that as of the end of May the order was aware of allegations of abuse against four deceased Jesuits: Alfonso Pedrajas Moreno, Alejandro Mestre Descals, Luis María Roma Padrosa, and Jorge Vila Despujol.

However, according to an article published June 5 by the newspaper La Razón, there are four more religious who have been accused: Antonio “Tuco” Gausset, Francisco “Pifa” Pifarré, Carlos “Vicu” Villamil, and Francesco “Chesco” Peris.

In addition, there are reportedly six Jesuits who are being investigated “as accused for alleged cover-up of abusers,” including the current superior in Bolivia, Father Bernardo Mercado, as well as Oswaldo Chirveches, Marco Recolons, Ignacio Suñol, Ramon Alaix, and Arturo Moscoso.

However, it hasn’t been determined whether these religious are part of the group of eight former provincial superiors who were suspended by the order at the beginning of May as part of the internal investigations of the order.

On May 31, Mercado, a Jesuit provincial, along with Chirveches, a former provincial, appeared before the La Paz prosecutor’s office as part of the investigation against them for alleged cover-up.

According to the newspaper Página Siete, Mercado emphasized at the end of his statement that he had committed “the Society of Jesus to contribute with everything necessary to clarify these cases that have come to light and that have caused and are causing so much pain to Bolivian society.”

ACI Prensa contacted the Jesuits’ lawyer in La Paz, Audalia Zurita, to learn more about the complaints against the religious and how the community is supporting the investigations but did not receive an answer by press time.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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