EFEMexico City

The Oaxaca Children's Forum was joined Tuesday by several priests and activists in accusing Mexico's Catholic hierarchy of protecting a priest who may have abused around 100 children.

The accusation was made at a press conference at which a letter was read from the mother of one of the victims directed to Pope Francis, who will visit Mexico next month, in which she asks the pontiff for justice for the victims and action to ensure that "this doesn't happen again."

The main target of the complaint is the archbishop of Antequera-Oaxaca, Jose Luis Chavez Botello, who is being accused of covering up the cases by not conducting a thorough investigation of abuses that occurred in seven indigenous communities.

The main protagonist in the case is the Rev. Gerardo Silvestre Hernandez, who is accused of committing the first abuse almost a decade ago.

"In 2006, Gerardo Silvestre abused a 9-year-old boy during a six-month internship" in San Pablo Huitzo, a parish in the southern state of Oaxaca, the forum's Alejandro de Jesus said.

According to De Jesus, after that "more than 100 victims were dragged in" during the years in which Silvestre served as a priest at seven different locations.

Silvestre was accused by the state Attorney General's Office of corrupting minors on Aug. 12, 2013, in a case involving two boys from the indigenous community of Villa Alta.

The priest remains behind bars pending trial.

The Oaxaca Children's Forum asked for sanctions for those who are "indirectly" involved in the case, an allusion to the Mexican Church, which ot accuses of "protecting the victimizers instead of safeguarding the victims," De Jesus said.

Participating at the press conference was also the Rev. Apolonio Merino, one of the people who denounced Silvestre's behavior.