A US man who says he was raped by a priest as a child announced Thursday he was suing the Vatican seeking the identification of accused clergy members worldwide.
Over recent months, the Catholic Church has been gripped by a global sexual abuse scandal — particularly in Australia, Chile and the US — with allegations that cases were covered up by top church officials.
“I’m seeking the truth — that’s what this is all about,” 52-year-old Manuel Vega, who said he suffered five years of abuse by southern California parish priest Fidencio Silva-Flores when he was a choir boy, told a press conference in Los Angeles.
“You have to get the images in your head what these priests did to us. And the Catholic Church has done nothing… the inaction continues to damage children,” he added.
Vega was one of around 500 victims of sexual abuse or rape who in 2007 agreed with the archdiocese of Los Angeles, the biggest in the US, to a landmark $660 million settlement.
In 2013, the archdiocese published the names of the 120 clergy members involved. Among them was Silva-Flores, who was accused of abusing at least 28 minors, according to Vega’s lawyers.
The priest was allowed to return to his native Mexico just after the first allegations were made, they claim. It is not known whether he remains a priest or if he has contact with children.
Vega’s suit, filed in a Los Angeles federal court, aims to force the Vatican to reveal the identities of all priests accused of abusing children, alleged related files and details of clergy members who helped cover up the acts, explained his lawyer, Jeff Anderson.
“In 35 years of working with survivors and bringing actions against top officials in America, one thing is clear,” Anderson said.
“The problem is at the top and until the problem is addressed at the top, it will continue. We applaud this courageous survivor and all the survivors who have shared their truth to help protect kids.”