No Picture
News Briefs

Bolivia’s attorney general accuses Jesuits of obstructing sex abuse investigation

July 14, 2023 Catholic News Agency 1
Bolivia Attorney General Juan Lanchipa. / Credit: Facebook page of Bolivia attorney general’s office

ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 14, 2023 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Bolivia’s attorney general’s office announced July 10 that it has now received a complete copy of the diary of deceased Jesuit Alfonso Pedrajas in which the priest discloses he sexually abused at least 85 minors in the course of his ministry.

A few weeks ago, the Bolivian attorney general’s office confirmed that on June 20 it had received a copy of the diary from the Society of Jesus in Bolivia but charged that it contained “gaps in the sequence of pages and sections crossed out and deleted.”

In response to the accusation, the religious order denied having tampered with the contents, arguing that the material it received had arrived in a sealed envelope that came from Rome via courier, sent by the general curia of the Society of Jesus, which in turn had received it from the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF). The Jesuits turned over the envelope “unopened, just as it was received” to the attorney general’s office.

The Jesuits in Bolivia denied knowing how the DDF had gotten a copy.

After the attorney general’s office reviewed the material, Attorney General Juan Lanchipa pointed out July 11 that the copy delivered on June 20 by the Jesuits has erasures that “correspond to names, dates, and places.”

“This shows that the Church has not complied with its commitment to cooperate in the investigation, but on the contrary, it is putting up these kinds of obstacles,” he charged.

Lanchipa also informed the media that on July 10 he had received the complete diary of the priest Pedrajas via international cooperation, according to the media outlet Infobae.

International juridical cooperation is collaboration between states through their competent authorities to obtain information, documents, proofs, evidence, and other procedures that involve actions outside the state that requires it.

“We have sent a copy of this diary, which they have sent us from Spain to the Cochabamba departmental prosecutor’s office, so that they can carry out investigations based on its content,” Lanchipa explained.

In response, the Society of Jesus reiterated in a July 12 statement its “spirit of transparency and cooperation with the justice system.”

At the same time, the Jesuits denied having obstructed ongoing investigations or having altered Pedrajas’ diary. 

The Jesuit order emphasized that “any erasure, amendment, or cutouts  from this diary was not carried out by the Society of Jesus nor is it known who could have done it, since the Jesuits in Bolivia never had access to said document.”

The arrival in the country of a complete copy of the material, they said, “can contribute positively to clarify the facts.”

A second diary

The attorney general reported on the existence of a second diary: “We have another diary from this priest Antonio [Luis María] Roma, and in all cases we can show that these are abominable, horrifying acts that have been committed against our children, against our young people.”

The Bolivian state general prosecutor, Wilfredo Chávez, also issued a statement on the matter: “There is one more diary from a case in Santa Cruz; it’s a handwritten diary. Here the aberrations that a priest allegedly carried out on girls in the Santa Cruz Chaco [plains area] are narrated and they are cases that must be investigated. He’s a priest who has already passed away, but we still have to move forward in these cases. The state is the guarantor [of justice],” he explained.

The spokesman for the Society of Jesus in Bolivia, Jesuit Father Sergio Montes, reported that the former delegate for safe and healthy environments of the order, Father Osvaldo Chirveches, brought a copy of the Jesuit Luis María Roma’s diary to the La Paz prosecutor’s office on May 9.

The diary was part of the file that was turned over when making the complaint against the priest.

Along with it, other documentation was presented, the product of the previous investigation carried out by the Society of Jesus in 2019, “including the deplorable photographic material” that became public.

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


No Picture
News Briefs

UN Security Council discusses Pope Francis and imam’s human fraternity proposal

June 15, 2023 Catholic News Agency 2
Young people from around the world held hands in St. Peter’s Square during the #NotAlone human fraternity event June 10, 2023. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jun 15, 2023 / 08:22 am (CNA).

The U.N. Security Council convened a high-level briefing on Wednesday to discuss the role of “human fraternity” in promoting peace, inspired by the fraternity declaration co-authored by Pope Francis and a leading Sunni imam.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told the council on June 14 to look to the human fraternity declaration signed by the pope and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, in Abu Dhabi in 2019 as “a model for compassion and human solidarity.”

Following the briefing on June 14, the security council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning hate speech, racism, gender discrimination, and acts of extremism that was co-authored by the United Arab Emirates and the U.K.

The resolution had originally contained a reference to Pope Francis’ human fraternity declaration, which was deleted after some members expressed concern that the use of the term “human fraternity” could be interpreted as endorsing the entire content of the 2019 document, including its condemnation of abortion, according to the Security Council Report.

France also objected that the term “fraternity” was too ambiguous and could have contradictory interpretations, adding that religious questions do not have a place in the security council and that the resolution was “too weak” on the issues of women’s rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Pope Francis, in a message read aloud by the Vatican’s foreign minister Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, invited the security council to “face our common problems, setting aside ideologies and narrow visions, partisan ideas and interests, and to cultivate a single purpose: to work for the good of all humanity.”

“We are suffering from a famine of fraternity, which arises from the many situations of injustice, poverty, and inequality and also from the lack of a culture of solidarity,” the pope said.

“New ideologies, characterized by widespread individualism, egocentrism, and materialistic consumerism, weaken social bonds, fueling that ‘throwaway’ mentality, which leads to contempt for and abandonment of the weakest and those considered ‘useless.’”

The UAE convened the high-level meeting on human fraternity as it holds the rotating security council presidency this month. 

The meeting fell under the security council’s “maintenance of international peace and security” agenda item.

Al-Tayeb, considered the highest authority in Sunni Islam, addressed the council via video conference from Egypt.

He rejected claims that Islam is a religion of the sword and said that war is only acceptable in self-defense. Al-Tayeb urged the international community to move away from pointless wars, mentioning Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and said that the war on the eastern borders of Europe is instilling fear that humanity may regress.

The UAE and the Holy See have collaborated in promoting human fraternity in the years following the 2019 declaration. 

The UAE created the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, which is co-chaired by Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue of the Holy See, and sponsors the $1 million Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.

A Vatican foundation also honored Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan with its “Man of Humanity” award in 2021.

In Guterres’ address to the security council, he said that “we are witnessing a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, violent misogyny, anti-Muslim hatred, virulent anti-Semitism, and attacks on minority Christian communities” around the world.

The U.N. secretary general called for strengthening “the values of compassion, respect, and human fraternity anchored in international human rights norms and standards, and secure free and safe civic spaces.”

“This demands action by all of us — across international organizations, governments, civil society, and the private sector. And it requires intervention by faith leaders everywhere,” he said.