The detention of an 83-year-old priest in Brazil for allegedly abusing boys as young as 12 has added to the scandals hitting the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America, even as Chile’s bishops asked pardon on Tuesday for past sexual abuse cases.
The allegations against Monsignor Luiz Marques Barbosa — and two other Brazilian priests — have made headlines throughout the world’s most populous Catholic nation and come amid accusations of sexual abuse by priests across the world.
The scandal erupted when Brazilian television network SBT last month broadcast a tape purportedly showing Barbosa in bed with a 19-year-old that was widely distributed on the Internet.
The station said the video was secretly filmed in January 2009 and sent anonymously to the network. It was not clear if the 19-year-old, identified as a former altar boy who had worked with Barbosa for four years, had previous sexual relations with the priest.
Catholic bishop sees no harm in raping children
In a preview to the upcoming trial of Bishop Robert Finn of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, a lawyer for Finn asked Jackson County Circuit Judge John Torrence to dismiss the charge against him because he said there was another Diocese official who should have reported the priest to police.
“Bishop Finn had no statutory duty to report. We believe that this is clear,” said attorney J.R. Hobbs in arguing for Judge Torrence to dismiss the case against Finn.
Judge Torrence said he would take the matter under advisement and likely rule on the matter next week.
Bishop Finn is the highest-ranking Catholic leader to face criminal charges in the United States related to alleged abuse by a priest.
His case marks what some observers see as a key turning point in assigning accountability to an organization that has a long history of protecting priests who abuse children.
The priest in this case, Father Shawn Ratigan, has been charged with 13 counts of child pornography, some of which he kept on a church computer, and is jailed awaiting trial.