VERACRUZ, MEXICO – Scores of people demonstrated Friday in Xalapa, capital of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, to demand the release of a Catholic priest jailed for his alleged participation in a child-pornography ring operating via the Internet.
The demonstrators – who numbered some 200, according to organizers – came out in support of the Rev. Rafael Muñiz Lopez, pastor of St. Peter Apostle Church, who was arrested Wednesday by Mexico City authorities along with six other accused pederasts.
“Father Rafael is not alone,” read a giant banner carried by demonstrators at the head of the march, which drew people of all ages.
Children held up various posters in support of the priest, while adults sang religious songs and prayed for the pastor. Prior to the march, the demonstrators attended a special intentions Mass at St. Peter Apostle for Muñiz.
The leaders of the protest were later received by the Veracruz state government’s consultant on religious matters, Luis Carbonell Landa, who pledged to ask Mexico City authorities to grant Muñiz a fair trial.
The investigation that led to the priest’s arrest began last month when Mexico City prosecutors discovered an e-mail containing images of sex acts involving minors.
On a Web page linked with the e-mail investigators noted “scenes of explicit sex between adults and girls and boys from 0 to 10 years old,” the DA’s office said.
Police tracked the Web site to Luis Alejandro Vergara, 32, at whose Mexico City home they found a large amount of child pornography.
Vergara, who confessed to rape and sexual abuse, was an employee of Mexico’s foreign ministry, which said it would fully cooperate with the investigation.
Information on Vergara’s computer led police to six other individuals in five different Mexican states, including the Rev. Muñiz and his brother.
The Catholic hierarchy in Veracruz on Thursday urged people not to rush to judgment about Muñiz but instead to wait until the investigations have been concluded. EFE