Newly appointed Mexican Cardinal of Veracruz, Sergio Obeso Rivera told reporters last week those who “accuse men of the Church should (be careful) because they have long tails that are easily stepped on.”
The cardinal made these comments in Veracruz, Mexico, while speaking at a celebration for his former diocese, Crux Now reported.
Despite acknowledging that some of the recent allegations made against the church were true, he still “went after the victims,” according to reporters.
Rivera prefaced his aggressive comments by saying, “I’m here happy to talk about nice things, not about problematic things, it’s an accusation that is made, and in some cases it’s true.”
These statements by Rivera were made in Spanish and translated and reported by Crux Now, which describes itself as “a news site dedicated to offering the very best in smart, wired and independent coverage of the Vatican and the Catholic Church.”
The cardinal’s statement about “long tails” was rephrased by one journalist as being similar to saying that people have “skeletons in their own closets.” Breitbart suggested that his words could be interpreted as “those who accuse us should have a little pain.”
Rivera also said that the accusations “make us feel bad and we want to improve.”
According to Crux Now, Rivera was made a cardinal by Pope Francis just under two months ago, shortly before his controversial comments from early last week.
The case being referenced was from Aug. 15, in which a Pennsylvania grand jury found “internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania show that more than 300 ‘predator priests’ have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims,” according to CNN.
“We believe that the real number of children whose records were lost or who were afraid ever to come forward is in the thousands,” the grand jury report said.
“Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops … archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”
The church’s methods were described by the grand jury as “a playbook for concealing the truth” after their practices were identified by FBI agents in diocese files.
Their report, which was released Tuesday, outlined an investigation into abuse at the hands of clergy that dates back to 1947 and includes six dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.
In the past, Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania’s other two dioceses, have both been subjects of grand jury reports that found similar damaging information about the clergy and bishops in their dioceses.
In stark contrast to Rivera’s statements, CNN reported that Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Timothy L. Doherty, chair of the bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, released a compassionate statement about the recent accusations against the church:
“The report of the Pennsylvania grand jury again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades.
“As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops.”
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