“I Never Got a Response”
By Mariana Carbajal
March 17, 2013
[Translated to English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
"I wanted to resolve things behind closed doors. I was certain the Church was going to meet my demands. I was born in the Catholic Church, when I was still in the belly of my mother, who took me to religious service. But the Church let me down, [doing nothing more than] imposing a warning on the priest who sexually abused my son,” Beatriz Varela told Página 12.
Her words are spoken with sadness, though she said that she can now talk about it without crying. It took her many years to be able to so, due to the excruciating pain induced by the episode, when, in the early hours of August 15, 2002, her youngest son, then 15, was sexually abused by the priest, Rubén Pardo, a man she had chosen to be spiritual and ethical advisor to the boy.
Beatrice is 61 years of age. She comes from a very religious family who is very devoted to the Catholic Church. She, like her own three children, attended religious schools. She held, until her retirement last year, a teaching position at Colegio Manuel Belgrano, which is dependent on the diocese of Quilmes [for aid and support]. She taught catechism and did volunteer work for Movimiento de los Focolares and Obra de María. Her brother is a deacon. Her mother served in La Legión de María, where she was responsible for a youth group, worked at the church supply store at a chapel in Quilmes, and was a loyal supporter of Movimiento de los Focolares. Beatriz’s family never wanted her to denounce to the secular legal system the sex abuse suffered by her youngest child.
In her long journey to get the Catholic Church to impose an exemplary penalty on the pedophile priest, and prevent him from having contact with other potential victims, Beatriz knocked on myriad doors of ecclesiastical authorities in the metropolitan area. She even arrived at the Office of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, where she asked to speak with Jorge Bergoglio, recently appointed pope, then commander in chief [of the Office of the Archbishop].
"I believe the Cardinal ought to hear what the lady has to say,” Father Gregory told the priest who waited on them on the fourth floor of the Curia, located next to Catedral de Buenos Aires, on the day Beatriz set out to get help. She didn’t want to disclose to the priest who attended to them the motive for her interest in meeting with Bergoglio. “It's for closely personal reasons,” she recalled having said. But she didn’t want to reveal the exact details, as she was sure that if she said it had to do with a pedophile priest, she would have no chance of being received by Bergoglio. She never got the appointment.
Earlier that same day she had gone to the Ecclesiastical Tribunal, where she tried to denounce the incident. [The Tribunal] called her a month later. “Four priests questioned me. They asked me prurient questions, making me feel guilty. Like if my son had had a girlfriend, if I had had relationships, things that had nothing to do with the crime that the priest had committed. I believed they were going to expel him. But I never got a response,” she said. “No one ever contacted me from the Metropolitan Curia.” Bishop Stöckler ended up telling her to “show mercy to those who’ve taken a vocational vow of celibacy, as they have moments of weakness,” thereby minimizing the sexual abuse committed by Father Pardo.
Beatriz worked for 20 years at Colegio Manuel Belgrano, in the diocese of Quilmes. “I retired last year. “It caused me a lot of pain to go [to work]. Every single day, it was like entering the house of the rapist, since it [the school] was dependent on the diocese,” she said.
Beatriz didn’t lose faith in God. But she lost her trust in the Catholic Church. “Now I have a direct line to God,” she said. She stopped going to church altogether. “Never again will I step foot in a church,” she repeated.