The archbishop of San José, José Rafael Quirós, downplayed the fall in the reputation of the Catholic Church after turbulent months during which a priest was arrested at the border, an international arrest warrant was issued to another and authorities raided the buildings of the Metropolitan Curia and the Episcopal Conference.
The Church sustained the largest drop in its image over the last six years, according to the latest survey from the Center for Research in Political Studies (CIEP-UCR), after falling from a grade of 6.5 points (out of 10 possible) last November to 5.5 in March.
Despite this, the archbishop said he expects to see “many people committed” to the Catholic Church and predicts a broad participation in Holy Week, or Semana Santa, which began April 14.
“Our main responsibility as a Church is to continue to evangelize, and as a result of this, we have a great participation in the life of the parish communities, where pastoral agents are still active,” said Quirós through an email. “So, what we can say is that we see many committed people and a lot of participation of the faithful — for example, during Ash Wednesday. We are sure that it will be like this during Holy Week.”
Quirós is under ecclesiastical investigation after two people accused him in October of alleged cover-up of sexual crimes. These men denounced Mauricio Víquez for abusing them when they were teenagers and said Quirós had known about the events since 2003.
The accusations against the Víquez — who is wanted by Interpol — and the actions of the Catholic Church in the face of complaints of sexual abuse have been widely questioned in the last five months.
The Church, citing the right to a defense, warned Víquez of a criminal complaint against him, which led to his escape from the country Jan. 7.
In the same month, the former priest of the parish of San Isidro de Heredia, Sidar Monge, was sentenced to six years in prison for abusing an altar boy in 2009.
In March, Semanario Universidad reported on the case of a young man who reported being abused and assaulted by priest Jorge Arturo Morales between 2009 and 2011. Days after telling his story, the student filed a criminal complaint and the priest was arrested in the border of Paso Canoas when trying to leave the country.
The student, the victims of Víquez and other young people have alleged the Catholic Church has pressured them to prevent the filing of criminal complaints, and they have spoken of a system that plays against the victims and conceals alleged abusers.
Faced with the accusations and questions of the Seminary (the priest training school), the Church said that the Seminary is an “open house” and that “it is unfortunate when any of these ex-seminarians, or any person, disseminates information about it, given his own interpretation.”
This story was originally published by Semanario Universidad on April 12, 2019. It was translated and republished with permission by The Tico Times. Read the original report at Semanario Universidad here.