Nov. 4, 2019
By Elise Harris
[Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a four-part series by Elise Harris.]
When Chrystian Contreras Javier Gomez, entered Argentina’s Hermanos Discípulos de Jesús de San Juan Bautista at age 15, he thought he was walking among spiritual giants whose life of contemplative prayer fueled a heroic service to the poor.
Yet it wouldn’t take long for him to discover that there were more sinners than saints behind the community walls.
Within his first three years in the order, Contreras was sexually abused by the order’s founder and later raped by a deacon belonging to the community. After leaving, he attempted to make a civil complaint against the two but gave up after being humiliated at the police station. He eventually made a canonical complaint, but almost a year later, he has heard nothing more about it.
The order has now been suppressed and the founder and another prominent member are currently facing criminal charges of alleged sexual abuse from two other victims, however, Contreras still has no clue about the status of his case, where his rapist is, or if he is still in ministry.
Contreras’s story is not unique. And while the suppression of his order might seem like a victory for himself and other victims, the chaos left in the aftermath might well be a classic case of “be careful what you wish for.”
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