SANTIAGO – Chilean priest Tito Rivera, who stands accused of raping a man in the Santiago Cathedral, said on Monday that the accusations against him were a “profit-making set-up” and reiterated that the “reality of sin” exists within the Chilean Catholic Church.
“The reality of sin that is undeniable exists and is being experienced within the Church nowadays. Not to acknowledge it is to cover one’s eyes with both hands,” Rivera said in a public statement he read to the media.
Rivera said last week on a television program that “50 percent of the Chilean priests are homosexuals” and that the institution provides “the environment” for homosexual relations, remarks that were rejected by Santiago Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati, who asked the Vatican to dismiss Rivera immediately from the priesthood.
Rivera insisted on Monday that inside the Chilean Church there are “a considerable number” of homosexuals, a situation that – he emphasized – he confirmed over the course of his almost 40 years in the priesthood.
“It is urgent to determine what percentage of our ministers are pedophiles, because pedophilia is a crime in which the perpetrator is irrecoverable and a danger to society,” he declared.
The priest also denounced what he called the culture of covering up complaints of sexual abuse within the Chilean clergy, an issue that has entangled the country’s Catholic Church in the worst crisis in its history.
“During my experience, my superiors had the habit of authorizing a second and third chance for those priests who received complaints and they were shifted to other parishes or cities, completely forgetting the victims,” Rivera said.
The priest is being investigated for allegedly raping a man identified as Daniel Rojas in a bedroom within the Santiago Cathedral in 2015.
According to a report by Radio Biobio, the man came to the cathedral to ask for help in buying some medication for his daughter and was attended to by Rivera, the former rector of the Agustinas Church, who offered him a glass of water that contained a drug, took him to a bedroom on the second floor and raped him.
Rivera, who last week admitted to having sexual relations with other men, said on Monday that Rojas’ complaint is a set-up, adding that the complainant “seems to have sexual fantasies.”
“I never imagined that helping him with the best of intentions was going to create this huge plot,” Rivera said.
The Episcopal Conference of Chile last August published a list of 42 priests and a deacon who had been convicted in the civil or church courts of sexually abusing minors.
The Chilean Attorney General’s Office is investigating 148 cases of alleged sexual abuse committed by people linked to the Catholic Church, while the number of victims who have emerged totals 255, according to national prosecutor Jorge Abbott in January.