Opus Dei Sex Abuse Case: an Exclusive Interview
By Randy Engel
September 24, 2018
|Gaztelueta, an Opus Dei private boys school in Leioa (Bizkaia), Spain|
AN INTERVIEW WITH MR. JUAN CUATRECASAS ON THE GAZTELUETA SEX ABUSE CASE
[Note: The following interview with Mr. Juan Cuatrecasas Asua is a follow-up to the detailed investigative report of the Gaztelueta sex abuse case by this writer that originally appeared as a two-part series, “The Gaztelueta Sex Abuse Case – Opus Dei On Trial,” on AKA Catholic HERE and HERE. The reader may want to refer to that report before reading this interview with Mr. Cuatrecasas, the victim’s father. The Gaztelueta case is expected to go to trial on October 4 to October 11, 2018, at the Audiencia provincial de Vizcaya (Bizcaia) in Basque, Spain. – R.E.]
Randy Engel: Thank you, Mr. Cuatrecasas, for agreeing to this interview. I am grateful that you write and speak English so well. Is this your first American interview on the Gaztelueta case?
Mr. Juan Cuatrecasas: Yes, it is. You are very kind to interview me and allow me to talk about this terrible case, which is important not only for Spain but also for the whole world. The sexual abuse of anyone, especially a child, is, in my opinion, a way to denigrate the human being. It is a grave matter, as are the coverups and intrigues that accompany the crime and add to the misery of the victim.
R.E.:You have been seeking justice for your son and your family for many years, and finally that time has come. You must be experiencing both a sense of relief and anticipation with the criminal trial coming up in October.
J.C.: That the possibility of a criminal trial exists is itself a triumph not only for my son, but also for all victims of sexual abuse who have not been able to denounce their assailant(s) and who have been silenced by the hammer of false shepherds in the Catholic Church, and subsequently re-victimized by those very same false shepherds.
RE.:With your permission, let’sbegin with the latest news on your son. I believe that the Spanish press has used the pseudonym, Asier. Howold is Asier now?
J.C.: My son is now 22 years old.
RE.: I understand that in sexual abuse cases involving minors, especially adolescent males, recovery does not always follow a straight-forward path. Would you describe your son’s personality before and after the sexual and psychological assault on his person?
J.C.: As far as the change in personality of my son, I think this is more of a matter for the psychiatrist. What is clear is that my son never had problems in his young life until JMMS crossed his path at theGaztelueta school. From then on, his life and ours became hell.
[NOTE: “JMMS” refers to Mr. Jose Maria Martinez Sanz – Opus Dei numerary and alleged perpetrator of sexual abuse who taught religion, morality and languages at Gaztelueta, an Opus Dei school. – ED.]
|Jose Maria Martinez Sanz|
RE.: Does he remain under medical and psychological treatment?
J.C.: Yes, he does.
RE.: In addition to the physical and psychological problems your son has suffered from his abuser, can you shed some light on what the spiritual repercussions have been for him and for your family? From previous interviews, I have received the impression that you and your family have become stronger in your Catholic Faith as a result of your many trials and tribulations. I hope this is true because other victims of sexual abuse and their families need to hear this.
J.C.:Of course, I can only answer this question for myself. I still think there is a God and that He is good and just. But to be honest, given the Catholic Church’s poor track record with regard to helping victims of sexual abuse and its failure to bring the perpetrators of these horrific crimes to justice, I simply no longer see the Church with the same eyes I once did. I do not think there is any room for cowardice, infamy, and lies in the Church that Christ Himself established. Maybe Pope Francis is the beginning of a better future for the victims of sexual abuse. I don’t know. But I do know there is a lot of work to be done, and it is taking much too long to accomplish that work.
RE.: I have some questions regarding the Gaztelueta School, where the assaults on Asier occurred. Can you tell me what you knew about Opus Dei and why you selected an Opus Dei school for your son?
J.C.:Well, as conscientiousparents we looked into all our options for schooling our son, and we picked the Gaztelueta school operated by Opus Dei. I had studied with the Jesuits, to whom I will always be grateful for the fine education I received, but I have never been a believer or member of Opus Dei. My wife initially favored the idea, but she, like me, was never a member.
It grieves me to say that we were wrong in our decision.
We have been humiliated, mistreated and harassed by Opus Dei officials and have suffered from their inhuman treatment of my son and our family. Unlike the traditional wooden Catholic crucifix, Opus Dei reminds me of a pure crystal cross without a corpus. It is hard and brittle. It has no heart. It shows no mercy.
RE.: The name of the alleged perpetrator in the Gaztelueta case is Mr. Jose Maria Martinez Sanz [JMMS]. I should explain that he is an Opus Dei numerary, not an Opus Dei priest. I understand he comes from a very prominent Spanish family? Is he expected to testify at the trial?
J.C.: Yes, JMMS is the nephew of a prominent conservative politician. I do not know whether he will testify or not at the upcoming trial. All I can say at this time is that his attitude toward my son and my family has been regrettable.
R.E.: Initially, I understand that the Director of the Gaztelueta school appeared to be sympathetic to your son and family, but that this changed as the facts of the case emerged and the consequences of JMMS’s actions became clearer. Is this true?
J.C.: Yes, it’s true. Imanol Goyarrola, the Opus Dei headmaster at Gaztelueta, is a sad and harmful character. His lies and his negligence in not protecting my son, but rather protecting the perpetrator of the crime against my son, will never be forgotten by me.
RE.: In my own investigation of the Gaztelueta case, I was very interested in thespecial role of the “preceptor” in the educational system of Opus Dei. Were you aware that Asier was assigned a mentor who was an Opus Dei unmarried man (numerary), who acted not only as a teacher but also as a personal guide and spiritual director and who had private and intimate access to your son on a regular basis?
J.C.: The preceptor of Opus Dei is a rather tricky figure. I don’t think that the concept of the preceptor is necessarily a bad one, but in the case of Opus Dei, the position is often used to proselytize and recruit young boys to Opus Dei. In my son’s case, JMMS violated his position both as preceptor and religion teacher when he sexually abused my son.
RE.: JMMS was a visitor to your home at one time, was he not?
J.C.: Yes, he took meals with our family on occasion, as this was the usual practice for Opus Dei preceptors.
RE.: I believe you commented in another interview that JMMS was interested in recruiting your son to Opus Dei while he was still a minor. How old was your son at the time? How did you and your wife react to this solicitation?
J.C.: Unfortunately, we did not learn of this matteruntil after the abuse had occurred. I do not know the exact age of my son when he was being recruited to Opus Dei, but I suppose he would have been about 12 or 13 years old.
RE.: As I indicated at the start of my interview, you and your family have been seeking justice for your son for many, many years. During this time what kind of support has your son and family received from other parents at the Gaztelueta school? From the Spanish hierarchy? From Bishop Mario Iceta Gavicagogeascoa of the Diocese of Bilboa where the Gaztelueta school is located ?
J.C.: To tell the hard truth,the only interest and support we have received has come from the Jesuits, from Monsignor Juan Jose Omella, now Archbishop of Barcelona, and from Rev. Angel Unzuet, Vicar of the Diocese of Vizcaya, whose support our family solicited. The rest of the Spanish hierarchy has been silent. As for Bishop Iceta, he has repeatedly lied about the Gaztelueta case.
RE.: At Christmas time in 2014, you received a letter of very welcome support from Pope Francis. How did the pope come to know about the abuse of your son at the Gaztelueta school?
J.C.: I sent a letterto Pope Francis with a personal messenger, and the Holy Father responded by sending my letter and the accompanying documents on the Gaztelueta case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which proved to be a dark hole from which no light emerged.
RE.: So, you turned over to the pope acomplete dossier of evidence supporting your charges against JMMS and the Gaztelueta school?
J.C.: I did.
RE.: And Pope Francis, in turn, gave that file over to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith headed by Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, Prefect?
RE.: Please tell our readers about the mysterious role that Father Silverio Nieto played in the Congregation’s investigation of the Gaztelueta case, which, in fact, never took place.
J.C.: Silverio Nieto, who came to my home and interrogated my son, allegedly as a compassionate and caring representative of the pope, is a sinister character in the Gaztelueta tale. He moves and walks in the shadows – cheating and lying. He was an authentic Richelieu – a concealer of truths and creator of lies.
I believe that Nieto acted as the premeditated and treacherous instrument of Opus Dei, which has been determined to silence our truth and our complaint against their numerary, JMMS, and the Gaztelueta school, which is an Opus Dei corporate apostolate. And I also know that Bishop Iceta and Archbishop Renzo Fratini, the Apostolic Nuncio to Spain, were complicit in the calumnies leveled against my son and my family.
RE.: Am I correct in stating that neither your lawyers nor you knew that the alleged inquiry of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was taking place at the Vatican, much less that it had been completed and had come down in favor of JMMS and Gaztelueta school officials?
J.C.:What you state is true. Neither my lawyers nor I was ever informed of the so-called Vatican “investigation” into the Gaztelueta affair. It simply did not exist. We were never given the opportunity to state our case. Everything that came to us was transmitted orally. We possess nothing in terms of official and concrete Vatican documents related to our case. All we received was a short phone call from Father Angel Unzeta who announced, “I have been told to tell you that they [the Vatican] have filed [closed] the case.” Period.
The whole non-existent “investigation” by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was pure Theater of the Absurd!
RE.: At what point in time did your son decide to file a criminal case in Spain’s secular courts rather than go through the Church’s ecclesiastic juridical system?
J.C.: My son decided to start criminal proceedings against JMMS when he was 18 years old, that is, approximately four years ago. He made that decision on his own, and my wife and I naturally have supported him.
RE.:As we draw our interview to a close, what lessons do you think the Gaztelueta case could teach us?
J.C.: While Americans have been forced to deal with the issue of the sexual abuse of children by clerics and other persons associated with the Catholic Church for decades now, I think the reader has to appreciate the fact that, here in Spain, the issues concerning child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are relatively new.
I view pedophilia,which is the sexual abuse of young children, and pederasty, which involves homosexual attacks upon adolescent boys, as forms of terrorism. These young victims need social recognition and moral compensation and justice, and not just a cold and indifferent request for forgiveness unattached to any meaningful and concrete acts of reform both by Church and State.
In our country, many things have to be changed in both civil and criminal legal jurisdictions and in the canon laws of the Church. I have in mind the important matter of dispensing with the statute of limitations that often prevents victims of childhood sexual abuse from seeking legal redress because the State’s or Church’s time limit for taking action has run out. Also, when a psychiatrist, after a thorough study of the victim, has confirmed the damage to the child and validates the circumstances of the child’s abuse, it should not be necessary that the young victim be forced to repeat over and over again the details of his assault to the point of exhaustion before any legal assembly.
RE.: What are your hopes for the upcoming trial on the Gaztelueta case, not only for your son personally, but also for other victims of sexual abuse, especially children and adolescents?
J.C.: First, let me say that God is with the victims and their families. Those who cover-up for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes and treat the matter with abominable lightness, as is the case with Opus Dei, are not of God.
I am aware that there are many young victims of sexual abuse out there who, with their families, suffer in silence. Both the State and the Church need to legislate new laws and legal processes that will make it possible for them to come forward and plead their case regardless of their social or economic status.
As for the upcoming trial which begins on October 4, 2018, I expect a just sentence, that is, a sentence favorable to my son and against JMMS. I believe that the eyes of the world will be on Spain during this historic trial as the whole truth of the Gaztelueta sexual abuse case is revealed, layer by layer. And all of the lies and deceits of Opus Dei concerning the sexual abuse of my son will be exposed for all the world to see.
RE.: That is certainly my prayer for your son and your family, Mr. Cuatrecasas.
As we bring this interview to a close, do you have any concluding remarks?
J.C.: Yes, I would like to make one last personal comment concerning the earlier media coverage of the Gaztelueta case by CRUX Vatican correspondent Ines San Martin on October 13, 2015, titled “Vatican Closes Abuse Probe Promised by Pope Francis at Spanish School,” in which San Martin falsely claims that the Vatican had established the innocence of JMMS.
My wife and I had not seen or heard of the CRUX story until we read about it in the two-part series you, Randy, wrote for AKA Catholic on April 4 and April 6, 2018.
I think that journalist San Martin is one of the information media manipulators who have become part of Opus Dei’s vast media empire. The long shadow of her past attendance at Opus Dei’s University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, and the fact that most of the details she published on the Gaztelueta case do not correspond to reality, provide sufficient proof to discredit her and CRUX news service.
This is my first opportunity to challenge San Martin to back- up with evidence all her arguments and statements found in her article of October 13, 2015, concerning the Gaztelueta case.
I believe that she will not, that she cannot, take up my challenge, because to do so is impossible.
At this point I would like to recall the words of the North American writer and psychologist William James: “There is no greater lie than truth misunderstood.”
Opus Dei and its members and backers, journalists included, are specialists at doing just that.
Thank you, Randy, for this interview.
RE.: My thanks to you, Mr. Cuatrecasas, for granting me this important interview. The prayers of many Catholics and numerous people of goodwill from around the world go with you and your family in what I believe will be called “the Trial of the Century.”