The abbot of the Monastery of Montserrat, Josep Maria Soler, admits in a video recorded in 2015 that, contrary to what he has said publicly, already in the seventies he knew rumors about possible abuses of the friar Andreu Soler, founder and director of the group scout of the sanctuary. It is more he recognizes that he himself informed the superior of then, Cassià Just. This scandal was uncovered by EL PAÍS last January with the public denunciation of a victim, Miguel Hurtado, and until now has brought to light nine more victims.
The video, which this newspaper has had access to, was recorded by Hurtado himself with a hidden camera in the conversation he had with the abbot in 2015. After recognizing that he had suspected the friar for more than 40 years, the abbot confesses what he he thought when he received his complaint in 2000: "When your family contacts me, it is the first time that I am responsible for the community and I was not surprised because I had … those rumors from another era had come to me".
These are the words of the abbot of Montserrat, when Hurtado asked what happened in Santa Cecilia, an enclosure of the sanctuary: "They told me that there could be … there were rumors that there were homosexual relationships. But they were rumors. The seventies and so many (…). Before, Santa Cecilia was a place on the weekends. Once a month or so there were some meetings of young people of Santa Cecilia. Then he tells him that he brought it to the attention of the abbot at that time, Cassià Just. " He told him "that he would search, that he would investigate, but I do not know any more". In this way it is clear that up to three abbots of Montserrat were informed of possible abuses of Andreu Soler: Just, abbot from 1966 to 1989; Sebastià Bardolet, until 2000, to whom Hurtado first denounced his case and did not take any action; and Josep Maria Soler, the current one, who only separated him and compensated the victim.
Of that denunciation of Josep Maria Soler in the seventies nothing remained in the records of the abbey, he says himself. When in 2000 he became abbot and received the letter from Miguel Hurtado's mother, he looked at the card of the friar: "The only thing that was on the card of the germà Andreu is what there is of all the monks, the date of birth, the place of birth, addresses of families, date of profession and works that he has done in the monastery ".
The conversation was tense because Miguel Hurtado arrived very angry. After denouncing the abuses he had discovered a book by Andreu Soler published by the abbey publishing house, with a foreword by Jordi Pujol, which praised his figure and his career as head of the group scout. It is a talk that also contradicts what the abbey has officially said these weeks: they have assured that for them the case of abuse as such did not exist, because it was the word of the victim against the friar, who denied it and had no way of to know the truth. Although they separated the religious to another monastery and paid a compensation of 7,200 euros to the victim, an action that they justified as an aid to someone who suffered and had come to them in search of support. However, the abbot in the video assures Hurtado several times that he believes him: "I have never doubted your word, nor the damage you have suffered." And also informs him that, although Soler denied the accusations, when he was expelled he made it clear that it was "for having abused a minor".
Hurtado points to this contradiction to explain why he decided to record the conversation with a hidden camera: "The victims are always afraid of not being believed, and as this video shows, the abbot says one thing in private and another in public, and they make us to be liars, when the reality is that most victims tell the truth. "
The abbot tells Hurtado that the friar, when questioned by him, only "half recognized" the facts: "That he had been excessively affectionate." And he continues: "I trust what you wrote and what you told me and what you are saying … I did not ask much more because you could, that is, you could understand. That of a more affectionate treatment, because it is a euphemistic way of saying … ".
Next, Miguel Hurtado is interested in the expulsion of the accused to another monastery, and the abbot reveals that he found internal opposition to the exile. It also details that the community was not informed of the reason for the exile to the Miracle monastery in Lleida.
– And you personally told him that he had to go to the Miracle to do penance for having abused a minor ?, asks Hurtado.
-Yes, for having abused a minor and for other things.
-For other things. But, you told him clearly that he was going away in penance for having abused a minor and that this was a behavior that you did not approve.
In any case, the victim makes him see that, according to the rules of the Vatican, since 2001 he should have reported the case to the Holy See, especially after in 2003 Hurtado contacted him directly, no longer through his mother. "Why did not he?" He asks. "Because Brother Andreu was already very delicate in health", answers the abbot. Andreu Soler passed away in 2008.
At the end of the conversation, Hurtado takes out a wad of bills, the amount of money he received from Montserrat as compensation, which already bothers him, and gives it to the abbot. "But now you make me feel bad. Because what I wanted was the repair of the damage that was done to you, "replies Josep Maria Soler. "We did not do it in a paternalistic sense, not even to buy you. No, we did it to help you … for the damage that was done to you. "
Hurtado explains that his lawyer asked him "a little discretion" when he agreed to the compensation and reminds him that he has given interviews, but he has never revealed the details of his abuse. "I have read your interviews and I have seen that you have complied," admits the abbot. But now the victim announces that he will no longer keep the secret. Confident that the case would eventually come to light, shortly after the abbot finally communicated to the Vatican.
If you know of any case of sexual abuse that has not seen the light, write us with your complaint to [email protected]