Mexico City, Jan 23, 2008 / 11:45 am (CNA).- Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City announced this week that the Church supports a policy in which “ecclesial ministers who commit sexual crimes are severely punished by Church and civil law.”
In a message to the Symposium on Punishable Crimes Committed by the Clergy, organized by the Pontifical University of Mexico, the cardinal pointed out that “it is very appropriate that this matter, which is especially delicate because of the repercussions it carries, not only in relation to internal Church discipline but also because of the consequences that these actions garner from civil authorities, be a matter of calm, dispassionate and highly academic study.”
“It is necessary in these matters that there be precise knowledge of the crimes that are punishable, of the competence of Church authorities and the consequences that these punishable acts can have in relation to the entire people of God,” he added.
Cardinal Rivera stressed that those involved in sexual crimes “must be punished with greater severity, since those who commit these types of acts affect not only the victim, but also his or her family and the Church [and] cannot go unpunished.”
For his part, the rector of the Pontifical University of Mexico, Alfonso Vargas Alonso, pointed out that the university “opens its doors to researchers, canonists, teachers, lawyers and the public interested in the issue so that they can hear this series of conferences that aim to delve deeper into the current problem that is very much felt in our society.”
Seeking out the truth is part of the nature of the Pontifical University, Alonso stressed. “Our university, in communion with our bishops, since it belongs to the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, being faithful to the magisterium of the Church, has entered the field of scientific research and offers in this symposium the clear and serene reflection of experts who have researched the issue.”
The Dean of the School of Canon Law, Mario Medina Balam, said the faculty is not interested in scandal. “The faculty exists and develops its mission in the Church; therefore it is not outside the life of the Church. The Church, as an institution, is one more component of Mexican society, and her members are also citizens of this country,” he explained.