El Salvador Priest suspended over sexual abuse

Father Jesus DelgadoReuters

The Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador says it has suspended a senior priest after allegations of chid abuse.

The Archdiocese of San Salvador said its preliminary investigation showed Jesus Delgado, 77, the third-ranking priest in the country's Catholic church, had sex with a minor aged between 9 and 17.

The female victim, who is now 42, presented the allegations to the Salvadoran government.

"We will not cover up cases of abuse of minors," said Monsignor Rafael Urrutia, chancellor of the Archdiocese of San Salvador. He added that Delgado had been relieved of his duties and was ready to ask the victim's forgiveness.

Delgado was the biographer and personal secretary of the Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was shot by a right-wing death squad while saying mass in 1980.

The country's attorney general has not commented on the case, but Delgado may not be pursued in the courts because the alleged crime happened more than 20 years ago.

Pope Francis is currently in Africa on his tour of Kenya and Central African Republic, but he has previously spoken out strongly on abuse. "There is no place in the Church's ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not," he said.

Additional reporting by Reuters.