Monday 6 February 2023

Catholic Priest Faces Criminal Trial in Costa Rica and The Vatican For Sexual Abuse of A Minor

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Manuel Antonio Guevara Fonseca, a priest from the Santo Domingo de Heredia parish, was arrested Thursday morning outside of his house in downtown Heredia, for allegations of sexual abuse against a minor.

Catholic Church priest Manuel Guevara was suspended from the Santo Domingo de Heredia parish. Photograph from Facebook

This morning, Friday, after spending the night in the jail cells of the Juzgado Penal del II Circuito Judicial de San José (Goicoechea Court), the 52-year-old Guevara was released on the condition of signing in once a month, maintain a permanent residence, and prohibited him from attacking, threatening, disturbing or contacting and keeping a distance of not less than 500 meters from the victim .

The cura (priest in Spanish) had to also surrender his passport and is banned from leaving Costa Rica.

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The arrest on Thursday came one day after the Archdiocese of San José temporarily suspended him, while a canonical complaint was being investigated by the Catholic Church by the same person who filed a criminal complaint (denuncia) with the Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalia).

However, Guevara will remain linked to the Catholic Church until the Vatican decides otherwise.

This Friday the Costa Rican bishops admitted that as a religious organization they have not always given “the just and timely response to this problem.”

“We humbly acknowledge our mistakes and ask forgiveness for the faults that have been painfully committed by some members of our church,” says the document of the Episcopal Conference.

The prelates say they are waiting for indications from the Vatican, through the new protocol of attention of sexual crimes within the religious organization, announced by Pope Francis during the summit for the protection of minors that took place in Rome.

Earlier this week, on Monday, the Vatican endorsed the expulsion of Mauricio Víquez Lizano, 54, from the clerical state for life, following complaints against him for sexual abuse.

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The now-former Costa Rican priest received the maximum sanction imposed by the Vatican in cases such as pedophilia and is wanted by Costa Rican authorities, last week last week issuing an international arrest warrant given Lizano left the country in early January.

Against Lizano nine canonical complaints were filed for alleged sexual abuse of altar boys, in addition to a criminal complaint filed with the Fiscalia for the alleged qualified violation against a minor.

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