Several priests and activists joined the Oaxaca Children's Forum Tuesday in accusing Mexico's Catholic hierarchy of protecting a priest who may have abused about 100 children.
The accusation was made at a press conference at which a letter was read aloud who was written by the mother of one victim directed to Pope Francis, who will visit Mexico next month. In it, she asks the pontiff for justice for the victims and action to ensure that "this doesn't happen again."
The main target of the complaint is the archbishop of Antequera-Oaxaca, José Luis Chávez Botello, who is accused of covering up the cases by not conducting a thorough investigation of abuses that occurred in seven indigenous communities.
The main target of the allegations is the Rev. Gerardo Silvestre Hernández, who is accused of first abusing a child almost a decade ago.
"In 2006, Gerardo Silvestre abused a 9-year-old boy during a six-month internship" in San Pablo Huitzo, a parish in the southern state of Oaxaca, Alejandro de Jesus of the the Children's Forum said.
According to de Jesus, after that, "more than 100 victims were dragged in" during the years in which Silvestre served as a priest at seven different locations.
Silvestre was accused by the Oaxaca attorney general's office of corrupting minors on Aug. 12, 2013, in a case that involved two boys from the indigenous community of Villa Alta.
The priest remains behind bars pending trial.
The Oaxaca Children's Forum has asked for sanctions for those who are "indirectly" involved in the case, a reference to the Church, which it accuses of "protecting the victimizers instead of safeguarding the victims," de Jesus said.
Participating at the press conference was also the Rev. Apolonio Merino, who has denounced Silvestre's alleged actions.