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Borderland residents react to UN's slam against Vatican's handling of sexual abuse allegations

Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 6:12pm

El Paso Catholics agree with the latest UN report criticizing the Vatican and how they've handled alleged sexual abuse among their priests.
As the sacred heart church bell chimes in a new hour, bitter feelings for Catholic El Pasoans like Mario Lozano, "Man, it just broke my heart." We spoke with Lozano about the UN’s latest report essentially slamming the Vatican for how they've handle sexual abuse cases within their churches.

"To me, I think they're just supposed to get rid of them. If he did it one time he's just going to keep on doing it,” Lozano told us.

El Pasoans like Lozano want the church to do more than just shuffle alleged abusers from church to church. "That should not happen in religious leadership. I think the priest should get, they should get rid of them completely,” Robert Gutierrez a Segundo Barrio resident said.

"There's really no excuse for child abuse by anyone let alone a trusted priest,” Lori Watson, a Dallas Based attorney told us. Watson has been handling alleged El Paso child sex abuse cases. One of her clients accused Priest Alfonso Madrid of sexual abuse. Madrid served Sacred Heart Church in El Paso from 1970 – 1982. He died two years later of natural causes.

According to legal documents, it happened when the plaintiff was just 8-years-old.

"The church needs to have complete transparency and openness regarding everything,” Watson explained. The Vatican needs to do more than just get rid of an alleged abuser, she added,"the church still needs to have something in place and some accountability."

The Vatican responded to the report saying they will be reviewing it.

As for Lozano, he explained that his faith hasn’t been shaken,"When I take my little boys and girls to church I have them right here with me. I'm not going to let them, you know, get close to the priest." But the way he spends his Sundays has definitely changed.

The UN report also stated 400 priests have left the priesthood in 2011 and 2012 since sexual abuse allegations have come to light.

The US Catholic Church claims they've spent $3-billion in legal fees for these cases. The El Paso diocese makes up $4.6-million of that amount.

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