Similar broad releases of confidential priest files have not happened in Latin America, where victims are less likely to come forward and even less likely to file a civil claim.
Ramon Luzarraga, an expert on the Catholic Church in Latin America, said justice has come more slowly in Argentina in part because its society has until recently avoided public discussions of sexual humiliation, which was used as a tactic in the “dirty war” waged against leftists by the 1976 to 1983 military dictatorship.
“Argentina’s democracy is still comparatively young and, compared to the United States, people are not as acclimated to being outspoken in the face of injustice,” he said.
That leaves clergy abuse victims in the US and their supporters to hold the pope to account on questions of priest abuse everywhere, said Luzarraga, who teaches theology at the University of Dayton in Ohio.
The hundreds of confidential priest personnel files that have been made public in the US have bolstered critics because they can see with their own eyes how the church in the US dealt with abusive priests, he added.
“That is a big difference. Information is power,” he said.
Associated Press writers Gillian Flaccus in Los Angeles and Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.