When Pascual Rodríguez (not his real name) read last month that the Jesuits admitted that members of the order had abused 81 children in a century, he felt an old wound reopen. Like many victims’ associations, he too thought it was a “ridiculous” number and that many were not on that list. Among them, him.
In 2010, he denounced the order that he had suffered abuse when he was an intern at the Inmaculada School of the Jesuits, in Alicante, at the hands of the religious JMM in the course of 1957 to 1958. He was 12 years old. According to his account, he had a fever and they transferred him to the infirmary, a common bedroom where the children who were in treatment were staying.
In that place he saw how the defendant, responsible for the installation, abused a colleague and then abused him. Following your complaint, the Society of Jesus opened an internal investigation, but concluded that there were no indications and dismissed it.
They did not agree to the reparation demanded by the victim and neither to remove the accused from contact with children because “there is no danger to the students.” In fact, Pascual assures that already in 1985 he went in person to the school and informed the rector and the head of studies of the abuses, but they ignored him.
He also asked that he be removed from contact with children. But with the same result: denial. They did not take any action, “he explains. The accused Jesuit remained at the college for decades, until today. Pascual assures that already in 1985 he went in person to the school and informed the rector and the head of studies of the abuses, but they ignored him. He also asked that he be removed from contact with children. But with the same result: denial. They did not take any action, “he explains.
The accused Jesuit remained at the college for decades, until today. Pascual assures that already in 1985 he went in person to the school and informed the rector and the head of studies of the abuses, but they ignored him. He also asked that he be removed from contact with children. But with the same result: denial.
They did not take any action, “he explains. The accused Jesuit remained at the college for decades, until today.
After the 2010 written complaint was rejected, Pascual felt mocked because the entire process was “a joke in bad taste, arbitrary and unfair.” “They entrusted the investigation to a person from the school itself and they did not even take a statement from me, they simply asked the Jesuit, he denied it and it was over,” he says.
It is an irregularity, since listening to the testimony of the victim and the complainant is a basic step in a canonical process. “They laughed at him, it was not done according to canon law, because an investigator must call him to testify,” explains an ecclesiastical jurist.
In addition, they did not communicate the result to him and it took 10 months to send him the decree of resolution, which on the other hand had a surname that was not his. The Jesuits have not wanted to give their version of what happened and clarify whether this case was well managed or falls withinthe cover-up stage of the past, which they have acknowledged in their report .
In a change in their transparency policy, they point out that after presenting their internal investigation, they will no longer give information on more cases to the press.
The whistleblower, frustrated and disappointed that he was not being given any credibility, did not give up. In these 10 years he has written letters and emails to all the Jesuit estates, including several provincials, the former general of the order, Adolfo Nicolás, and the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Luis Ladaria.
He has also written 35 messages to the Episcopal Conference (CEE), the Vatican and Pope Francis. “There has only been silence or denial,” he sums up. He points out an exception, the Jesuit Adrián López, a clinical psychologist, who responded to show his solidarity, although he regretted not being able to do anything. Also the Pontifical Commission for the Guardianship of Minors of the Holy See replied in 2018,
Now that the Society of Jesus has apologized to the victims and presented its internal investigation, the complainant questions the validity of the report, as he wonders if they have evaluated all the complaints as they did with his.
According to the study, the order has 15 cases in which a Jesuit was accused and acquitted, 10 of them in court. According to Pascual’s testimony, the religious sat on his bed and touched his penis: “I remember that the person in charge of the infirmary was sitting on the bed of another child, perhaps two grades higher than mine, and had one arm stuck on my partner’s sheets while he spoke loosely, as if nothing was happening.
I thought he was taking his temperature, but I soon understood that he was not, because he did the same thing in my bed, touching my penis. This event has accompanied me all my life. I have also wondered how many children I would do the same for so many years, until the boarding school was closed in 1980 ”. This newspaper has contacted this other possible victim, but he has refused to speak.
The 2010 complaint was processed through the Bishop of Orihuela-Alicante, who at that time was Rafael Palmero. The complainant went to visit him with his wife to tell him about his case and the bishop transferred the complaint to the Jesuits.
The provincial of the order in Aragon, the area that corresponded to him, opened an internal investigation. After a year and a half, he decreed that “there is no indication whatsoever” and pointed out the “doubts and contradictions” of the accusation, although he did not specify what they were.
In 2013, on the advice of his lawyer, although the case was prescribed, Pascual went to a psychiatrist and underwent a psychopathological evaluation. The report concluded that “the sexual abuse led to a biographical bankruptcy at the age of 11-12 and has conditioned his entire existence,” with “chronic and crystallized symptoms of depression and anxiety.”
“We believe that the veracity of the trauma and the destructive effects that the trauma caused has been established. To the point that 50 years have passed before being able to implement decisive, adaptive and productive behaviors with which to deal with it ”. In the non-pecuniary damage inflicted, this specialist included “what she interprets as mockery and contempt for the lack of response to her initial demand.”
This is what the experts have detected in many of the victims of abuse in the Church: they suffer the so-called secondary victimization, a new damage by not being heard or believed by the institution when they decide to report it. This former student decided to open an email to try to collect testimonies from other possible victims:[email protected] .
Gemma Varona, researcher at the Basque Institute of Criminology, University of the Basque Country, completes a study on the victimsof abuses in the Church and corroborates that “many victims feel confused in the canonical procedures.”
“They are involved in a very red tape, very bureaucratic process, and as designed they cannot solve secondary victimization. It is very difficult to prove the primary victimization, the facts, due to the passage of time, because they are crimes committed in opacity, remains in one word against the other, but of course the victims do have evidence of secondary victimization later in the procedure canonical”.
On the other hand, Varona is exploring in her study “to what extent the canonical procedure can violate the guarantees of the victims in this type of procedure, both in theory and in practice, as well as the general data protection regulations,
At the insistence of the complainant, in 2014 the then provincial of Spain, the highest superior of the Jesuits in the country, Francisco José Ruiz Pérez, met with him and his wife. In a later letter, he explained that, despite understanding his pain, he considered the process to be correct and determined that the accused was innocent.
His words show a contradiction: “It is impossible for me to ignore this non-imputation, at the same time that I recognize the psychological and moral damage that you have experienced and experience with undoubted pain. But it cannot be inferred that his damage is linked to the guilt of the accused ”.
In other words, he did not question that the complainant was abused and his pain was real, but he did not see a culprit. On the other hand, at his request that the priest not continue in contact with children, He informed him that “he is currently doing work within the Jesuit community and maintaining the building.”
“You continue to experience a personal injury, for which you blame a Jesuit. For me the persistence of that wound is, in itself, also painful ”. In this ambiguity the case has remained until today.
Following the presentation of the Jesuit investigation report, Pascual wrote to the order to recall his case and show his outrage. A person in charge of the Company replied: “I am very sorry that you did not like the information given at the press conference.
As far as I know, with regard to the accusation, at the time a canonical process was opened, which concluded with an exoneration. I am very sorry that the conclusion of the process did not satisfy you, and I am sorry I cannot tell you much more ”.
This former student underlines one of the statements made at the Jesuit press conference last January, admitting that they should not focus on defending the institution, but on recognizing the victims. “I offer them the opportunity to close this injustice, avoiding more cruel responses, because I only want them to listen to me and acknowledge the truth of my complaint,” he explains.