Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Bolivia admitted Wednesday they were “turning a deaf ear” to allegations of sexual abuse of minors at schools it runs, vowing to take action after a barrage of revelations in recent weeks led to protests and the launch of a judicial inquiry.

The barrage of revelations began after a report by the Spanish newspaper El País, which brought to light the diary of the deceased Jesuit priest Alfonso Pendragas: it contained confessions of sexually abusing more than 80 children in schools he ran in Bolivia since the 1970s He emphasized that the bishops of the Church did not react, they protected him even though they knew.

Since April, about 200 people have reported being abused in Catholic schools in Bolivia by priests.

Revelations of sex abuse have damaged the image of the Roman Catholic Church and caused a headache for Pope Francis, who in recent years has announced measures to strengthen transparency and accountability.

In a statement they issued yesterday Wednesday, the Catholic bishops of Bolivia admit that “as a Church (…) we are certain that we participated, directly or indirectly, in the deep pain of innocent victims of sexual abuse and in the inadequate handling of the situation.” They announce that they will set up two commissions to investigate allegations of abuse and help victims who, instead of being protected, were faced with the indifference of the Church.

A few days ago, the country’s president, Luis Arce, sent a letter to Pope Francis, requesting that the Bolivian judiciary be granted access to files related to accusations of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Bolivia.