October 26, 2020

A priest condemned by abuses integrates an ecclesiastical tribunal that judges them | Society

A priest condemned by abuses integrates an ecclesiastical tribunal that judges them | Society



The parish priest of Espeja, a town of just over 200 residents of SalamancaHe was sentenced to one year in jail in 1998 for sexual abuse of a ten-year-old girl, as recognized by the diocese of Ciudad Rodrigo, and the bishop of the time, Julián López, who is now in León. He did not get to prison because he did not have a record. However, the sentence was not publicly disclosed and this priest, Joaquín Galán Pino, continued as parish priest in Serradilla del Arroyo, 40 kilometers away. At least since 2002, according to testimonies collected in this town, until today. Moreover, today is part, as a notary, of the judicial vicariate of the Diocese of Ciudad Rodrigo, as recorded on its website. It is the ecclesiastical court that is responsible for judging precisely the allegations of child abuse.

Regardless of confirming the conviction, the bishopric of Ciudad Rodrigo has refused to answer other questions that clarify the case or to assess that it is a member of the court. To Julián López this extreme "does not know". Both the diocese and the current Bishop of León assure that they acted "in accordance with current canon law" then. They admit that they did not open any ecclesiastical process. "The process in the civil sphere was considered sufficiently important and valid, so an express canonical process was not considered necessary," explains López.

But there is more, in a very confusing picture: there would be a previous case that was hidden. THE COUNTRY has found a victim of this priest in that town and on the same dates, but according to the family itself it is another case, different from the one that was judged and condemned. The diocese has not wanted to clarify if it knew of more accusations, although Julián López assures that it did not have record of more denunciations. However, the father of this girl, also around ten years, says that, in his case, agreed with the bishopric that the priest was transferred to another town and did not file a complaint. For this reason, his cause, opened ex officio by information from the prosecution, "at the end was filed," says this neighbor, who prefers not to give his name. "They advised us that it was the best thing, so as not to traumatize the girl more with the process and the interrogations," she says. The priest's subsequent sentence was so secret that even this man did not know he had been condemned.

"They just wanted to cover everything"

EL PAÍS has located the father of a victim of this priest, whose case was filed by the courts. He explains that he chose not to denounce so as not to let his daughter through the process and agreed with the bishopric to take the village priest. "They just wanted to cover everything, and nothing else," he recalls. "They never asked for forgiveness, they did not even recognize it. My daughter had just made communion and broke and burned all the photos. "

In the case that went to trial, according to the information provided by the diocese and by Bishop Julián López, there was a denunciation of the family of the victim and the bishop met with them. In this supposed second case, not: "A secretary came to see us at home and then we had another meeting in the bishopric, but we never saw the bishop," remembers this neighbor.

But at the end in the town something was learned, because shortly after, after remembering the transfer of the priest, he was arrested by the Civil Guard. It was on January 16, 1998, he spent a night in prison and the news came out in the media. The bishopric was forced to issue a press release in which he defended the presumption of innocence of the religious, who had been in Espeja since 1970. But then there was silence, nothing seems to have been known of the trial or sentence, issued in June. 1998, and in Espeja all the neighbors thought that the case had come to nothing. In fact, the priest has returned to the town to celebrate some wedding, to the victim's indignation located by this newspaper. "This bug came back two years ago, and you have to put up with it. Sometimes I regret not having broken my nose, but I think I did what was best for my daughter, "he reflects.

No responsible of the Diocese of Ciudad Rodrigo has wanted to speak with this newspaper. He is in a peculiar situation, because the bishop, Raúl Berzosa, requested a temporary retreat to the Pope last year "for personal reasons." It is managed by an apostolic administrator, the archbishop emeritus of Burgos, Francisco Gil, who also does not agree to speak.

Julián López, now Bishop of León and then in Ciudad Rodrigo, has responded. He assures that he learned about the case from an aunt of the victim in October 1997. "An investigation was started in the diocese and, apart from the judicial action that also initiated his action, the accused priest put, by letter, the resignation of all his charges pastoral works at the beginning of November 1997, resignation that became effective ". The priest denied the facts, says López, who suspended him provisionally and then definitively. While he was bishop until 2002, he says, "he had no pastoral dedication." "After the civil sentence, he deprived him of the ecclesiastical office," says his diocese in a letter.

It does not fit with what the bishopric said on that occasion in the wake of the arrest. In the press release of 1998, located by this newspaper, it reads: "The bishopric trusts the full innocence of the priest (…), who had been transferred to another parish, at his own request, at the beginning of this year, having stood out for his dedication and spirit of work ". There is talk of transfer, not resignation.

Lopez also maintains that he informed his successor, Atilano Rodríguez, current bishop of Sigüenza and Guadalajara, who remained in office from 2002 to 2011, the year in which the current one, Raúl Berzosa, arrived. "Later, he only knows that he continued as an archivist in the bishopric," says the diocese of León. But it's not like that. In fact, it contradicts what was expressed to this newspaper, also in writing, by the Diocese of Ciudad Rodrigo: "Since then, this priest left his job as professor of Religion, exercising, after a time, the pastoral ministry always under the supervision of a parish priest ". The diocese refuses, however, to detail how long it took until it became a parish priest and which bishop made the decision.

Testimonies collected in Serradilla del Arroyo by this newspaper coincide in pointing out that the condemned priest arrived at least in 2002. It is the year in which Julián López went to León, in April. That is, if it was not his thing, it would have been a decision of his successor, the current bishop of Sigüenza and Guadalajara. The priest is still in Serradilla and in August 2011, for example, he was a preacher of the festivities. In the village nobody knows about his background. "They sent him first to Martín de Yeltes and they did not want him there, they knew the story, and they had to put him in another," says a resident of Espeja.

If you know of any case of sexual abuse that has not seen the light, write us with your complaint to [email protected]

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