As someone who was raised Catholic, I find the issue of sexual child abuse within the church demoralizing and embarrassing--even though I'm no longer a practicing Catholic. But what I find even more despicable are the efforts made by church leaders to protect the priests responsible for the abuse. Documents released Monday show how Archbishop Roger Mahony of Los Angeles attempted to conceal child molestation cases from police in the 1980s even though he obviously knew the priests had committed a crime. 

The case of one the priests protected by Mahony struck a chord with me because he admitted that, for decades, he preyed on undocumented children from predominantly Spanish-speaking parishes. And that's not all...

In one case, Msgr. Peter Garcia threatened to have one of his child victims deported if he told the police, according to a church memo. So not only did he take advantage of his position as someone to be respected, but he also preyed on those he knew would stay quiet for fear of being deported. ¡Qué horror!

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Files show that Garcia told a therapist he had been abusing boys sexually "on and off" since he was ordained in 1966. The priest, like many others, was sent to New Mexico for psychological treatment in the 80s because unlike in California, therapists in that state were not required to report child abuse to the police. So instead of handing him over to law enforcement so he could be punished for his crimes, Garcia eventually returned to California where he died in 2009 without being prosecuted. 

Like in so many other cases, the church and its leaders failed to protect the victims and instead chose to protect the abusers--those involved in the cover-up, should be punished.  

Image via Thinkstock

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About the author

Roxana A. Soto is a Staff Writer for MamásLatinas. She's a bilingual and bicultural journalist born in Peru and raised in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Miami. She's also mom to a first-grader and a preschooler. She loves languages, traveling and good food – especially if it's cooked by someone else.

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Add Comment How do you think those involved should be punished?

Bella...

Sexual predators or "Pedophiles" need to be incarcerated for a very long time.  It is very demoralizing to know that people convicted of drug trafficking or other crimes get 20 or life term prison time then a person who commits a crime against a child.  Our laws need to be revamped, and we as women need to take a stand against child predators.

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