“The Vatican knew about Maciel’s abuses. It’s the last straw that doesn’t recognize him! ”| Society


Marcial Maciel prostrates before Pope John Paul II.



Saúl Barrales does not hide his anger. He has turned 88, 12 of them immersed in a fruitless legal struggle to obtain justice as a victim of abuse of Martial Maciel, the founding priest of the Legionaries of Christ, one of the great movements of Roman Christianity. It’s a mockery for him internal report made public on the weekend, in which the congregation admits that from 1941 until today 175 minors were victims of sexual abuse committed by 33 of their priests, at least 60 of them, by Maciel. “It’s a face lift,” he says. “It is not enough,” he continues, “the institution must disappear.” Tired of not being taken care of by the Church or by justice, Barrales and seven other people who were abused by Maciel when they were children – most of them today are over 80 years old – will go to the Mexican authorities in January to demand reparation for the abuses suffered

Barrales remembers that his nightmare began when he was 13 years old. In 1946 he and 30 other boys – 15 of them between 11 and 13 years old – traveled with Maciel to Spain, with a stay of a few days in Cuba. After embarking to Europe, the priest called him one night to his cabin. “He told me,‘ put my hand here on my chest because I feel pain ’and then lower it to his private parts. I soon began to notice his insinuations. He saw who liked him. He felt sympathy for the Güera people [de piel blanca], with blue eyes, 10, 11 and 12 year old kids. ” Barrales says that the Vatican knew about Maciel’s abuses, but that silence prevailed among young people studying for priests and Church authorities at all levels. “I told myself:‘ It cannot be that I prosecute a being who has done so many good things. We considered him a saint, an envoy of God to transform the Church. ”

He remained silent for 12 years, but as he became an adult he began to criticize what he saw, without coming to formal accusations. It was when Maciel decided to expel him. It was 1958, Barrales was 25 years old and, “with a ruined life,” he had to start from scratch. He dedicated himself to teaching and lived with a humble teacher salary, always with bitterness, until he retired.

Barrales and the other seven victims of Maciel abuse will go to the Executive Commission for Victim Assistance (CEAV) of the Government of Mexico with the hope that they will rule on their cases and fix a redress. In 2012, Mexico passed a General Victims Law, which obliges the State to provide assistance and protection and indemnify those who have suffered violations of their human rights or suffered violence. “It is these federal instances that can determine the degrees of affectation and that a reparation by the Government is achieved,” explains Sergio Méndez, lawyer for the eight victims and coordinator of the Constitutional Litigation of Justice Pro Personas A.C. Méndez affirms that the State may demand that public apologies be made and that compensation be paid to the victims.

The report of the Legionaries comes in the middle of the outbreak of the case of Fernando Martínez in Mexico, a legionary who abused at least six girls and whom the congregation covered up for 50 years. Radio presenter Ana Lucía Salazar was the first to report the abuses she suffered when she was eight years old at a school in Cancun at the hands of Martínez, who was the director. “They use you, they lie to you and then they throw you away and silence you,” counted at that time. Now he maintains that the internal investigation is not valid because “nobody supervised it” and presents a figure “unlikely and concise,” he says. “I find the result very makeup, they are not even telling everyone who covered up. I calculate at least twice as much. ”

Other victims

Following Salazar’s complaint in May, the case of seven other victims who suffered Martinez’s abuse came to light. Among them, María Belén Márquez, 34, who detailed what happened at the Cumbres Institute between 1991 and 1993, one of the 154 schools that the Legionaries run in the world. “It was not a weakness, it was sexual abuse, and several times,” he says. He cannot erase the priest’s hands on his body from memory. “They are sequels that are not seen, but that last a lifetime.”

Belén Márquez and Biani López, victims of the legionary Fernando Martínez.


Belén Márquez and Biani López, victims of the legionary Fernando Martínez.

Biani López Antúnez, another of Martínez’s victims, was enrolled by her parents when she was eight years old at the school run by the priest, whom the congregation had put in charge of the institution despite accumulating at least three complaints of pedophilia. “Fucking mother! They knew perfectly well that they were putting a sexual predator in my school, ”the 36-year-old woman curses. “In addition to abusing us, it made us see the abuse of other girls,” he says.

The publication in November of the internal investigation that admitted efforts to hide sexual abuse at the order school in Cancun has created a tense situation between a part of the Mexican Church and the Legion. The refusal of the congregation, so far, to expel the Spaniard Eloy Bedia, one of those accused of silencing complaints against Martinez and recently promoted, opens more doubts than certainties about the internal cleaning process.

For Saúl Barrales, despite the past decades and the death of Maciel, it is not too late for the Church to recognize what happened and compensate the victims. That is the battle he has fought for 12 years. “We want to be recognized. We want the Church to make the effort to remove priests who are inclined to commit abuses, we want that, if it is known that someone’s life has been disrupted, like me, there will be an economic restitution to live. The Vatican knew all these things, it is the last straw that they don’t want to recognize! ”

“Complicity of the State”

The former priest Alberto Athie, one of the first to denounce Maciel’s sexual abuse, holds the Mexican State responsible for impunity that has protected the aggressors within the Legionaries of Christ. And he gives as an example of this the refusal of the Mexican justice to carry out the investigations claimed by the victims who suffered the pedophilia of the religious. “The judicial authorities are unaware of the cases or have sought to neutralize them. There is a civil and state complicity, ”he denounces.

Athie says the report submitted by the Legionaries of Christ is incomplete. The most important lack is that it does not give names of priests accused of pedophilia, nor does it inform about its current location or detail whether they have been handed over to the authorities. Another complaint is that the report “ignores” the way in which “all cases were covered up.”

The Mexican Church also criticized the report. Rogelio Cabrera López, president of the Mexican Episcopate Conference (CEM), said over the weekend that the report is incomplete and that “he is late.” For the archbishop “it is inexplicable that this criminal history has not been disclosed in more than 70 years.”

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