November 26, 2015 / 8:35 PM / 2 years ago

Senior El Salvador priest fired over alleged sex with minor

Father Jesus Delgado, former secretary to the slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, attends during a news conference on Romero's beatification at the Vatican February 4, 2015.Alessandro Bianchi

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador's Roman Catholic Church said on Thursday it had fired a senior priest and former secretary of murdered Archbishop Oscar Romero after allegations that he had sex with a minor.

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 giving mass in 1980.

Pope Francis has criticized conservative clergy and bishops who he said "defamed" Romero.

Francis unblocked Romero's sainthood process shortly after his election in 2013, and he was beatified in May. Delgado attended several high-level meetings with Vatican officials to request the ceremony.

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.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Eric Walsh

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