ON behalf of the Costa RicanCatholic Church, Bishop José FranciscoUlloa publicly asked for forgiveness thisweek for the sex crimes church leadershave committed in the country.Ulloa, bishop of the Caribbeanprovince of Limón, and president of theEpiscopal Conference of Costa Rica(composed of the country’s 10 bishops),made the request at the commemorationmass for Costa Rica’s patron saint, theVirgin of Los Ángeles (see separate storyin Weekend), according to the daily LaNación. The mass was celebrated Mondaymorning after nearly 1.5 million peoplemade the annual pilgrimage to the CentralValley city of Cartago, east of San José.“Before the Beloved Lady of LosÁngeles, with complete humility, we pastorsrequest forgiveness from those brothersand sisters who were offended, hurt ormistreated by any undignified action ofany priest,” he said.“At the same time, we promise tocontinue applying the most demandingmeasures to avoid the damage that suchlamentable situations can cause. And weare not going to tolerate nor cover up(those situations), following the lead ofthe Pope John Paul II.“It’s my duty as a pastor to mentionthe grave mistakes and crimes that somepriests committed. In the first place theyforsook their commitments made at theday of their ordination before God andthe Church, and, in the second place, theyforsook the respect and wounded the dignityof a human being.”He said among the 800 priests in thecountry, “those that have committedcrimes you can count on the fingers ofone hand,” which “shows the majority arefaithful to their vocations.”He added, however, that “the marksthat remain on our Christian communities(for the abuses), especially on the victims,caused by the sins and crimes of a priestdo not erase so easily.”In the past year, the country’s courtshave sentenced two priests to prison forsexual crimes, one for 12 years and theother for four. Another priest remains atlarge, having left the country, and is nowsought by the International Police and issuspected to be in Nicaragua (TT, July 2).Another awaits trial, and a fifth paid ¢8million ($18,200) to his accuser to avoida trial.