January 16, 2021

The victim to the bishop: "Where is zero tolerance?" | Society

The victim to the bishop: "Where is zero tolerance?" | Society



Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez Jaime Villanueva / EPV

Javier wrote to Pope Francisco in November 2014 explaining the sexual abuse he suffered 26 years earlier. The crimes had prescribed, but the memories continued to pierce his mind. In the Minor Seminary of La Bañeza (León) "the nights became fear" whenever the priest José Manuel Ramos Gordón visited him. Although he asked the then rector of the Seminary, Gregorio Rodríguez (deceased) and Professor Francisco Javier Redondo for help, his complaint had no result. The abuses continued.

The denunciation to the Pope allowed to open an ecclesiastical process against the abuser, although it was kept secret. The diocese of Astorga judged the case and decided in February 2016 a minimum sanction, ratified by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: "Deprivation of the office of parish priest for a period of not less than one year. He will carry out spiritual exercises for the month and will develop care work for elderly and disabled priests, as well as other charitable tasks. " The victim, dissatisfied with the punishment imposed on the priest, met twice with the bishop of Astorga (Juan Antonio Méndez) and with the then judicial vicar (Julio Alonso). What follows is a transcription of part of those conversations where Javier's wife also participated.

Wife of the victim: (…) We are not very satisfied. The only thing we come to understand with your letter is the small punishment that will be imposed.

Bishop: We have agreed that it will be from July 1. He will begin the exercises and then come to the priestly house to be the year that has been imposed on him not to be in the parish or have contact with children.

Wife of the victim: The punishment seems a little ridiculous to me. They look like a vacation, not a sentence. And what about him (Javier)? Is there a will of the church for compensation?

Bishop: The sentence does not say anything. In the minutes of the defense lawyer has not done [mención] to the issue of compensation …

Javier (victim): I have never had a lawyer. I, the few information I have from his statement is that he did it for alcohol, on weekends. That is not true. That gentleman not only touched me what I put there [en la carta al Papa], it was much more and for longer. It was a cover-up on the part of everyone, because we said it and my father denounced it [a varios sacerdotes] and they covered his mouth. Julio told me that it reached the bishop's ears and Julio told me that in the diocese there is a review that spoke on the subject. And the other day on the phone I denied it …

Wife of the victim: We have been advised to propose a deadline for a repair proposal in which it was not rationed.

Bishop: What is that repair?

Woman: No hot cloth, 300,000.

Bishop: 300,000 euros?

Wife of the victim: Yes. It's unpleasant to say, but in his day they did not let him give a quantity [en una reunión anterior el vicario le dijo a Javier: “¿A lo mejor si te ofrezco 50.000 euros te sientes ofendido?]. And it is this.

Javier: I just want someone else for three seconds to get on my skin. How will this continue to affect my life? Do you think a lot of money to make up for it?

Bishop: What has been done there is no money to pay for this. I will have to consult the Holy See if I can do this or not.

Javier: But does it seem reasonable or exorbitant to you?

Bishop: I think it's a bit too much, right?

Javier: I have tried to be reasonable. This does not pay me a million, two or three or 200. Or maybe I want to settle with a few thousand euros Really?

Bishop: In the process you should have said that you could make amends in this way, right? but as it has not been said … they did not take it into account. They considered what canon law is as such. And also the extenuating ones: that it has prescribed, because they are 20 years …

Javier: Zero tolerance I do not know where it is.

Bishopric: In these moments … I was not there.

Javier: The other bishop of that time was knowledgeable and had him there [a Ramos] one more year. These are years of prescription, but also of impunity.

Second meeting:

Bishop: Regarding the request that you have made me the other day, [reparación] I have consulted the Holy See, the Episcopal Conference and also the civil lawyer we have here in the diocese. They tell me that I can not accede to the petition given that there is no civil or canonical sentence that supports my action. If I accept, I would be performing an illegal act. In Spain there is no evidence, to date, that a civil or canonical sentence has been issued that requires compensation to the dioceses as subsidiary officers. [El Supremo condenó en 2007 al Arzobispado de Madrid como responsable civil subsidiario en el caso del cura pederasta del barrio madrileño de Aluche a pagar a la víctima una indemnización de 30.000 euros]

Javier: Well, I consider this a crime. Me and the whole world I'm going to ask the public to see what you think. If I started this I did it to the ultimate consequences. I'm looking for justice. Sorry.

Bishop: All I can do is impose retirement or accept retirement to this man and leave him in stand by.

Javier: Impunity

Bishop: What?

Javier: Impunity. Maybe the ones who have to end this are the victims. Put things on the table. They destroyed my childhood. I have not lived for a year and a half. Destroyed, I do not sleep. Did I get this out? Well I do not understand …

Julio (vicar): Canonical justice what you have tried to do is what you can do …

Javier: Well, for me it is not justice.

July:What do we have to do? Hang him in the public square to teach everyone? We can not do it, nor could it be done in any civil system …

Javier: Then, in the letter of "by the will of the Holy See to repair the damage" That, what does it mean?

July: We have reached as far as we can go. What is to deprive the priest of his office, bring him to a nursing home and that he can not exercise? What else can we do? Put him in the middle of the Plaza de Astorga? Put all the children there to throw stones? Do we have to stone him?

Javier: No, society will do it. Public opinion can do it. Immediately. And the names of concealers that are in the letter as well. I think I do not commit any crime. And if I make a public claim in person in a square I do not commit a crime either. So … that's it. These are my measurements. I respect yours and you respect mine.

July: We, legally, can not go further.

Javier: As far as I know, there are victims who have been repaired and are not satisfied, they want some files to come out, to go public. They keep asking, I'm not asking for those things. It would be fair if it were repaired, that man went to jail, that the file would go out to the public opinion … that would be all fair. This is what the victims' associations ask for. All that. If I am a victim and above this, on top of that, beaten, then no. I will not allow it. I was 13 years old and I could not defend myself, but now I'm 42. And now I'm going to defend myself.

The vicar: "If you complain here, maybe it would have been blocked"

In one of the first meetings that Javier had with the judicial vicar of the diocese, Julio Alonso, the priest can be heard affirming that "the method" that Javier had used to denounce his case – to write to the Pope – is not "normal" , although he does recognize that it has been effective. "If you had presented her here for the first time, we would not have arrived where we arrived. Maybe the bishop would have covered it, advised by whoever it was, and would not have done more, "explains Alonso.

In this conversation also intervenes the father of Javier, where he says that in his day, four years after the sexual abuse of his son, he went to several priests to tell them what happened. "They gave me words of consolation", recalls the father, but he also received some threats: "We have to forget what we are going to do?", "Be careful what you say", "we already know everything".

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