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Clerical sex abuse disclosures skyrocket in pope’s Argentina

By in Press Enterprise on October 26, 2017

By The Associated Press

By LUIS ANDRES HENAO and ALMUDENA CALATRAVA

CASEROS, Argentina — Karen Maydana says she was 9 years old when the Rev. Carlos Jose fondled her at a church pew facing the altar. It was her first confession ahead of her first Holy Communion.

In this Oct. 11, 2017 photo, Karen Maydana, 22, shows a picture of herself as a child celebrating her first Holy Communion in Caseros, in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Maydana says she was 9 years old when the Rev. Carlos Jose fondled her at a church pew facing the altar on the day of her first confession ahead of her first Holy Communion. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

She blames the trauma of that moment in 2004 for a teenage suicide attempt. And yet she never spoke about it publicly until this year. After hearing that two women who attended her school in the Argentine town of Caseros were allegedly abused by the same priest, she joined them as complainants in a case that in July led to his arrest for investigation of aggravated sexual abuse.

“Unfortunately, there are many of us. But speaking about it now also gives you strength to carry on,” Maydana, 22, said. “I have a 9-year-old niece who’s receiving her Communion this year, and this is not going to happen to her.”

The allegations are part of a growing trend: While Pope Francis struggles to make good on his “zero tolerance” pledge to fight clerical sex abuse worldwide, victims in his native Argentina are denouncing abuses in unprecedented numbers. An analysis by The Associated Press shows that the number of clerics publicly identified as alleged sexual abusers has increased dramatically in the last two years.

Experts attribute the spike to a cultural shift as victims feel more emboldened to denounce abuse, prosecutors are more inclined to investigate complaints […]    

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