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Mexican President Will Not 'Confront' Church Over Sex Abuse Claims

FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference in Mexico City.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he would not confront the country's Catholic Church over sexual abuse allegations and that it would fall to the prosecutor's office to investigate such claims.

At least 152 Catholic priests in Mexico have been suspended over the past nine years for sexual abuse against minors, and some of those priests have been jailed over those offenses, Mexico's Archbishop for Monterrey said earlier this month.

The Catholic Church has reeled from sexual abuse scandals in the United States, Chile, Australia, Germany and a number of other countries in recent years. Mexico is home to the world's second-largest Catholic community after Brazil.

"We don't want to confront the church," Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference when asked about the role his administration would take in investigating sexual abuse allegations.

"If there's a legal process, we can't hide it, we're not going to be accomplices," he said. "But we're not going to stoke the fire."

Pope Francis will receive bishops at the Vatican this week to discuss worldwide revelations of sexual abuse in the Church, which have hurt the institution's credibility.

Although he has repeatedly promised zero tolerance for priests who abuse children, critics demand further action.