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Florida Abuse Case against Priest Accuses the Vatican

By Tanya Roth, Esq. | Last updated on

Among the many sex abuse scandals hitting the Catholic Church and now beginning to approach the Vatican itself, is one March 30 report from Florida. Attorneys for alleged victims claim a later defrocked priest, known for years for his work with immigrant children and adolescents had many claims of abuse attached to his name that the Archdiocese of Miami and even the Vatican were aware of and did nothing about. The Miami lawyers for the victims say this case is similar to the one unfolding in Wisconsin regarding abuse by a priest at a school for the deaf. 

According to a report in the Miami Herald, top church officials were aware of problems and accusations concerning Father Garcia-Rubio when he first transferred to Florida from Cuba in 1968. At that time, a confidential letter from Washington-based Apostolic Delegate Luigi Raimondi warned then-Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll that Garcia-Rubio, "'was forced to leave Cuba because of serious difficulties of a moral nature (homosexuality).''' There is much give and take reported by the Herald as to whether or not the term "homosexuality" was or was not code used at that time for priests with problems related to pedophilia or child abuse.

However, coded or not, one line is clear, protection of the priest is paramount. "'[] Protect this priest with your accustomed paternal charity,''' Raimondi wrote. Carroll assured him he would. The full outcome of this protection may not yet be clear, but the Miami Herald was the first to break the story regarding allegations of abuse by Garcia-Rubio back in 1988. At that time, church officials denounced the story as an "inquisition.'' The Herald story uncovered four allegations of sex abuse by teenage Nicaraguan and Salvadoran refugees from 1983 to 1988.

According to the current Herald story, in late 1988, Miami Archdiocese officials sent Garcia-Rubio to St. Luke's Institute in Maryland for a pedophilia evaluation, which came back as inconclusive. Garcia Rubio was not forced to leave the priesthood until 1991.

"It was a longstanding and well-known secret that the Vatican and Archdiocese of Miami knew exactly what Ernesto Garcia-Rubio was capable of,'' said attorney Jessica Arbour who, with lawyer Stuart Mermelstein, have filed several suits against the archdiocese involving Garcia-Rubio. A report by The Washington Post says the complaint filed by the two attorneys has been amended to include the Vatican.

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