Puerto Rico bishops hand over accused priests to civil authorities

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Feb 28, 2014 / 03:05 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan and Bishop Daniel Fernandez Torres of Arecibo in Puerto Rico have handed over a group of priests accused of sexual abuse to civil authorities.

In statements to the media, Archbishop Gonzalez Nieves said six cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors by priests have been turned over to Puerto Rican prosecutors.

He pledged “the full cooperation of the Archdiocese, regardless of whether the person who committed the abuse is a minister, employee or volunteer. This entire process, while painful, should be an occasion for reaching the ultimate goal, which is the well-being and protection of minors.”

“None of these priests is currently in ministry,” the archbishop emphasized. “Some of the cases have gone before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and others have exceeded the statute of limitations. One (accused individual) is dead, another was tried in court in Bayamon and another is outside Puerto Rico.”

For his part, Bishop Daniel Fernandez of Arecibo filed a complaint with police and the Department of the Family against one accused priest.

The attorney for the Diocese of Arecibo, Frank Torres-Viada, said that once accusations were made against the priest, “the Diocese of Arecibo proceeded to immediately and decisively activate the protocol for handling accusations of sexual abuse and referred the matter to civil authorities.”

“The Diocese of Arecibo and its bishop reaffirm their commitment to absolute transparency and cooperation in eradicating the scourge of sexual abuse against minors in the Catholic Church,” Torres-Viada told reporters.

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