The Catholic Church of Costa Rica was convicted of sexual abuse against a minor. A Costa Rican Court indicated that the Church had to pay the compensation of 65 million colones ($100,000) and the legal costs, equivalent to 10.6 million colones, close to US$16,000.
The sentence establishes that the Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica, Temporalities of the Archdiocese of San José, and the Archbishop of San José, José Rafael Quirós Quirós, must make a joint payment for the damages caused to the victim by the sexual abuse of former priest Mauricio Víquez Lizano.
In March, the Costa Rican Criminal Court sentenced Víquez Lizano to 20 years in prison. The Court found the ex-priest guilty of sexual abuse and rape of an 11-year-old boy in 2003.
Additionally, the court ruling indicates that the ecclesiastical authorities covered the crimes.
“Quirós Quirós (the archbishop), temporalities of the Archdiocese of San José, and the Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica are jointly and severally liable, by virtue of the employment relationship of the former priest Víquez Lizano, who was incardinated in the Archdiocese of San José when he committed the sexual offenses against the plaintiff and the respective cover-up of said actions,” indicated Catholic News Agency.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Rodolfo Alvarado, explained that this decision marks a milestone in the judicial history of Costa Rica, as it is a conviction against the Catholic Church, which is unprecedented for crimes of this severity.
Alvarado added that the trial revealed the responsibilities of the Catholic Church, which knew since 2002 that these events were taking place and failed to stop them and help the victim.
Víquez Lizano was a spokesman for the Church in Costa Rica. He was expelled in 2019, by Archbishop Quirós, after his canonical trial.
After learning of the accusation, Viquez fled to Mexico in 2018, where he was arrested a year later and extradited to Costa Rica in May 2021.
In a press release, the Episcopal Conference referred to the ruling and assured that they would appeal it.
“Against the judgment, we will file an appeal for violation of procedural law with the First Chamber of the Supreme Court so that until the chamber has ruled on the appeal, the judgment will not be final,” explained the Archdiocese.
The archdiocese will reiterate “the existence of the statute of limitation” and “ask the chamber for the correct application of the law.”
Finally, they affirmed their confidence in Costa Rica’s judicial system and stated they would accept the final decision. “As we have indicated since the beginning of the trial, we fully trust the judicial system and the Costa Rican judges, and we will abide by what is determined in the ruling,” the Catholic Church’s representatives concluded.
According to the victim’s lawyer, the attitude of the Church is shameful and goes against the guidelines instructed by Pope Francis, who has ordered his subordinates to compensate the victims of these crimes.