Mismanagement and systematic cover-up of abuse cases by Archbishop Fernandez. He should resign before taking up his post.

Report.  Champions of abuse: eleven priests denounced but protected by the Archdiocese of La Plata.

Monsignor Fernández with his auxiliary Alberto Bochatey (right) and former Auxiliary Bishop Nicolás Baisi.

Emblematic cases that shake the Curia of the capital of Buenos Aires.  From the Provolo five to the suicidal Lorenzo.  From Giménez, who escaped for "prescription" of the crime, to Sidders, who awaits his trial "imprisoned" in a field of his sister.  The excommunicated Yanuzzi and the high ranking Marchioni.  Groups of people that speak of a widespread scourge but denied by Jorge "Francisco" Bergoglio's followers.

Get to know the emblematic cases that shake the Archbishopric of La Plata.  Eleven priests denounced for abuse.

On Wednesday 28th, the Argentine Episcopal Conference, the highest political body of the Catholic Church in the country, published an end of year greeting.  In it, the Bishops say they hope for 2023 "that we can renew attitudes and dispositions for democratic co-existence, leaving aside everything that increases divisions" and "postpones the discussion of urgent issues".  The text is signed by Monsignors Oscar Ojea, Marcelo Colombo, Carlos Azpiroz Costa and Alberto Bochatey.

The last of the signatories is Auxiliary Bishop of the Archbishopric of La Plata. A disciple of the retired Héctor Aguer and current servant of the Bergoglian Víctor "Tucho" Fernández, Bochatey is a historical cover-up of abuser priests.  Suffice it to mention that in 2017 he helped Eliseo Primati, one of the accused priests of the Provolo Institute, to flee to Italy before he was prosecuted.  Or the support given to the priest Eduardo Lorenzo until the very day of his suicide (he killed himself to avoid going to prison for various abuses of minors), including a Mass in his honour.

In another act of hypocrisy, this week the same Archbishopric of La Plata announced the separation of the priests of the Miles Christi Institute from the Parish of San Luis Gonzaga and the San Francis of Assísi school, both in Villa Elisa.  Their arguments refer to the sexual abuses committed by the Founder of that Congregation, the priest, Roberto Yanuzzi.  Perhaps because he is an ultra-conservative opponent of the "progressive" Francis, he is the only priest to have been exonerated in the recent history of the Catholic Church in Argentina. Neither with the genocidal Christian Von Wernich, sentenced to life imprisonment, nor with the paedophile Julio Grassi did Jorge Bergoglio go that far.

Pulso Noticias and La Izquierda Diario have been investigating various allegations of ecclesiastical sexual abuse in the region for more than three years.  In this article, by way of a summary of the work carried out, we give you a first compilation of the priests denounced for sexual abuse, either only "behind closed doors" of the institution itself or including criminal complaints before the judiciary.

In addition to the case of Yanuzzi, through direct sources in each case, these media learned of more than a dozen priest abusers.  Some of them were reported in the national press.  All of them were covered up (at least as far as they could) by all the Archbishops, the Auxiliary Bishops, by the rest of the priests and by the laity with a very close material relationship with the Archdiocese.  Here is the list.

Lorenzo

Perhaps for being one of the most recent and scandalous, the most remembered case is that of the former chaplain of the Buenos Aires Penitentiary Service, Eduardo Lorenzo, who ended up committing suicide on 16 December 2019 at the headquarters of Caritas La Plata, in the centre of the City of La Plata.  Lorenzo was denounced in 2008 by one of the abused minors before the Ecclesiastical Courts, under the charge of the priest Javier Fronza. The hierarchs turned deaf ears to the constant complaints of the victim's godfather, until he decided to take the matter to the criminal justice system.  However, the judiciary shelved the case within a few months, faithful to the ties of favours to support the Catholic institution.

It took ten years for the case to be reopened.  It was when the victim called on the lawyer Juan Pablo Gallego, known for having successfully imprisoned Grassi, to represent her.  Since the prosecutor Ana Medina agreed to reopen the case, a Pandora's box was opened around the priest from Gonnet, who had been chaplain of the Buenos Aires Penitentiary Service for twenty years.

Five victims were brought before the courts in 2019, and various sources recognise that the number of children and adolescents who suffered the same thing amounts to several dozen.  Finally, after several statements, expert reports and raids on the parish house and church, the prosecutor of UFI 1 issued the arrest warrant for the priest.  A few hours later, Lorenzo was found dead in the headquarters of Caritas La Plata, where the Archbishopric had provided him with a "suite" after having to remove him from the chaplaincies, schools and parishes due to the large complaint made by the survivors along with other organisations from the feminist movement, human rights and the left.

The Lorenzo case is one of the clear examples of how the hierarchy of the Catholic Church acts in the face of these types of denunciations, with its slogans of "maintaining prudence" and "avoiding scandal" prevailing.  The complaint was initiated under Héctor Aguer's administration, it was quickly shelved and then, when it was reopened, Archbishop Fernández expressed his support for the priest.  On 24 March of that year he shared a Mass in the same church where the abuses were committed.

Archbishop Fernandez and his henchmen also tried to delegitimise the denunciations of the survivors and their families, and to this day they have never again made any statement about the case, let alone contacted the complainants to apologise, as the multiple abuses committed by the deceased have been proven in the criminal justice system.  As if that were not enough, a Mass was held to honour his sanctity, in the same place, in Gonnet.

Giménez

No one in their right mind could believe that church abuse is a "recent" phenomenon.  What is certain is that decades ago there was no movement of survivors who do not rest in their struggle against this scourge.  As we look back over the years, the list goes on, both during the Archiepiscopate of Héctor Aguer, Carlos Galán and Antonio Quarracino (who succeeded Antonio Plaza, the archbishop who participated in the civil-military-ecclesiastical dictatorship).

Héctor Giménez, the priest denounced for sexual abuse who currently resides in the Marín old people’s home.

The best known case from those years is that of the priest Héctor Giménez, criminally denounced in 2013 for aggravated sexual abuse by the survivor Julieta Añazco.  She denounced that she was abused during the summer camps organised by the Mother of Divine Grace and Sacred Heart of Jesus Churches in City Bell, in the 80's.  And she attests to having known several other victims, who never dared to denounce for fear of reprisals from the Archdiocese.

However, it seems that Giménez is no longer a danger to the rest of the children.  The criminal justice system ruled that the case was closed due to the "statute of limitations".  The ecclesiastical justice, which even tried to buy the silence of the complainant, took him to live in the Hogar de Ancianos Marín, located at 60 between 14 and 15 in La Plata, where he currently lives, goes out to do his shopping and nothing prevents him from being in contact with children.  Alert in the neighbourhood.

Another well-known priest in the city was reported to these media by at least four men, but so far he has been spared.  That is why he walks freely and has reached high positions in the Curia of La Plata.  The accusations have not yet reached a judicial instance, but they wanted their stories to be known for fear that the crimes would be declared time-barred, since they happened in the 1990s.  They were teenagers, three of them said they were abused by the priest of Cristo Rey, Rúben Marchioni, former head of the Social Pastoral Centre of La Plata.  It happened when they were altar boys in that parish in the Villa Elvira neighbourhood.  Another of them suffered it in the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Berisso.

One Sunday in early 2020, these reporters tried to talk to Marchioni at the end of his Mass.  As he greeted the faithful, he began to get nervous about the presence of journalists and locked himself and part of his flock inside the parish, avoiding questions.  "I'm not going to talk about it because that is the order given to us by the Archbishop", said Marchioni shortly after Lorenzo's suicide.

Rúben Marchioni was for several years head of the Social Pastoral Centre of La Plata, who "negotiates" with officials and union leaders to reach political and trade union agreements. Coincidentally, or causally, when the accusations against the priest were published, he was removed from his position of power.  Was it because he feared that the accusations against an ecclesiastical leader of his stature would increase?  Does Tucho Fernández really want to remove abusers from the Church?  If he had such a motive, he would have moved forward with the investigations and removed them from the parish, which is in charge of the primary and secondary school attended by children and adolescents from the neighbourhood, who are totally exposed.

The sentences of 42 and 45 years in prison received in November 2019 by Nicola Corradi and Horacio Corbacho, respectively, were the culmination of a long process.  Both priests were accused of raping and torturing more than a dozen deaf and mute children at the Antonio Provolo Institute in Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza.  These allegations, in turn, were replicated in La Plata, where another criminal case was opened for abuses and humiliations committed by Corradi, Corbacho and other priests years earlier at the Provolo's headquarters in La Plata.

Granuzzo, Corbacho, Corradi and Primati of the Provolo

During the Archiepiscopates of Quarracino, Galán and Aguer the abuses in Provolo were kept in perfect secrecy.  That is not to say that the monsignors did not know of their existence.  It is just that, as we know, "prudence" and "avoidance of scandal" are essential.  In addition to Corradi and Corbacho, the gang of Italian abusers (transferred from Europe to escape other accusations) is completed by Giuseppe Spinelli, Giovanni Granuzzo and Eliseo Primati.  The first died, although the Church never provided information about where and when.  The other two were eventually "repatriated" by the Archdiocese to Italy, more precisely to Verona, where the headquarters of the congregation is located.  Primati is the subject of an extradition request to be tried in La Plata.

The role of the Catholic hierarchy in the case, both Francis and the Archdioceses of Mendoza and La Plata, was most pathetic.  From the initial denialism to the attempt to distance themselves as much as possible from "the Italians".  But always questioning, slandering and attacking those who survived their abuses and their families.  Faced with the fait accompli, with the harsh condemnations on the table, came silence and the gradual dismemberment of the little that remained of the Congregation.  Apologies and reparations to the victims?  Not a chance.

Di Virgilio

At the beginning of 2022, the neighbourhood of Hernández was shocked by the accusation that came to light through the media: the priest Maximiliano Di Virgilio abused a girl from the Santa Ana school in November 2021.

Before everything came to light due to the denunciation of members of the educational community, Di Virgilio had agreed with the Archdiocese to an "intervention" in the school and the parish through the change of legal representatives (until then it was him).  And when it could no longer be avoided, Tucho Fernández, faced with the public scandal, ordered him to change his field and not to be near children.  Textbook.

Fortunately for the Archdiocese, none of the families of Santa Ana decided to file a criminal complaint against Di Virgilio, which serves the Curia to justify its practically non-existent sanction (even preventive) against the accused.  As they usually do, Di Virgilio was transferred to another parish.

Sidders

Raúl Anatoly Sidders, the former chaplain of the San Vicente de Paul School and former chaplain of the Gendarmerie squadron in Puerto Iguazú, Misiones, is accused of the crimes of "seriously outrageous sexual abuse due to its duration over time" to the detriment of a student who, as an adult, denounced him.  The trial will not take place until July 2025 and, until then, he will enjoy the privilege of house arrest.  He spent very little time in effective pre-trial detention and was able to hinder the investigation and even abscond.

The priest Raúl Sidders, also known as "frasquisto", was sentenced to house arrest.

"Frasquito", as he was known in the corridors of the San Vicente de Paul school (according to former students), was criminally denounced and was arrested in December 2020.  But six months later, the Judge of Bail Court No. 6 of La Plata, Agustín Crispo, decided to relax Sidders' pre-trial detention, granting him house arrest.  The prosecutor Álvaro Garganta, from UFI 11, was functional to the ruling as he accompanied the request of Sidders' defence.

Raúl Sidders was in charge of the educational institution for almost 20 years (from 2002 to 2020); he also hosted the television programme "Ave María Purísima" on the local channel Somos La Plata, which was denounced as misogynist.  He was also chaplain of the Punta Indio Naval Air Base until he was transferred to the Military Archbishopric in the Gendarmerie of Misiones.  He was one of the privileged ones of the Archbishop Emeritus, Héctor Aguer, who made a place for him to live next to him in the Curia.  The denounced events took place between 2004 and 2008.

In total there are 110?

In an interview with La Izquierda Diario, the former priest Adrián Vitali, author of the book El secreto pontificio. La ley del silencio, told how he arrived at the calculation that in Argentina "there are more than 650 abuser priests hidden by the Church", based on data from the Argentine Episcopal Conference on "official" records of reported cases, combined with information released by the priest Tom Doyle from Boston, United States (who had access to data hidden by the Vatican).

Doyle passed this information to the Boston Globe newspaper (whose investigation was faithfully portrayed in the award-winning film Spotlight).  There the priest claimed that, according to this sensitive data kept in Rome, only 10% of real cases worldwide have come to light.  "We know that the matrix of abuse in the Church is the same all over the world, so a projection of these numbers to Argentina gives us about 650 abusive priests.  But I dare say there are many more. And this is going to come out as the victims denounce the crimes", says Argentinean Adrián Vitali.

If we project these numbers to the Archdiocese of La Plata, percentage plus percentage minus, taking into account the eleven priests mentioned above, should we be talking about more than a hundred sexual abusers who have made their cassocks and the complicity of their superiors a safe conduct to subjugate probably hundreds or even thousands of children?  The number may seem exaggerated. But it is not, judging by the cover-up and criminal behaviour of the successive archbishops of La Plata in the face of the denunciations that did come to light.  How many are there?  A good question for Tucho Fernández to answer, without hypocrisy.  Doubtful that he will do so, of course.

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