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Peru: New information sheds light on Ayacucho priest case

By Rachel Chase

Ex-bishop Gabino Miranda asked Pope Francis for a year’s sabbatical in light of scandal.

Peru: New information sheds light on Ayacucho priest case

(Photo: Peru21)

Last week, reports surfaced that the former auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Ayacucho, 53-year-old Gabino Miranda, had been defrocked as a result of sexually abusing a minor in his role as a priest.

Church officials were initially tight-lipped about the details of the case; Peru’s Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani has only given press terse comments downplaying the issue, telling the public “not to make firewood out of a fallen tree.”

Now, however, more details about the case have come to light. Caretas magazine reported this week that Miranda was defrocked on Pope Francis’s orders, as part of the latter’s stated “zero tolerance” policy for sex abusers in the clergy.

Caretas writes that the incident in question may date back to June 2012. According to reports, the victim was a 14-year-old altar boy who was touched inappropriately by then-Bishop Miranda during confession.

According to Caretas, the victim lodged a formal complaint (denuncia) with the Archbishop of Ayacucho’s office; it appears the complaint went unnoticed or ignored for some time. The Archbishop of Ayacucho, monseñor Salvador Piñeiro denies that a complaint ever reached his office. Bishop Piñeiro confirmed that Miranda was removed for committing “impure acts,” but added that accounts of a formal complaint “are a lie. If I had received [a complaint], I would have investigated it, of course. I’m not an accomplice in this.”

The following April, Miranda wrote a letter to Pope Francis asking for a sabbatical year so he could “reflect on my imprudent acts, and dedicate myself completely to my personal interests, and put ecclesiastical and work functions aside.”

He has now been stripped of his position within the church. His whereabouts are unknown.

On Sept. 20, the Ayacucho prosecutor’s office opened an official investigation into the matter. Reuters reports that neither Peruvian church officials nor Vatican authorities have responded to the prosecutor’s request for information.

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