The truth will set us free

I am talking about the sexual abuse of minors that occurred within Catholic institutions in Spain. They are not 4 or 33 cases in the Basque Country, or 58 in Navarre, or 1246 cases in the Spanish State. They are very many more, a lot more, as it will be clear once they are known. And they must be known.

It is difficult to think that the directors of teaching institutions, the superiors of religious orders or the bishop of each diocese did not know about these facts. Thus, it falls that most of them were covered up by school directors, religious superiors or bishops. Did they perhaps not follow, practically until today, the guidelines to keep silent given only 7 years ago (in 2015), during the pontificate of the actual Pope, by Luis Ladaria, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?

Now the facts are still coming to light in dribs and drabs. Soon, they will arrive in a rush. The upper ranks of bishops –with honorary exceptions- still try to minimize the damage, or to dilute it by advancing the childish argument that the Church is not the only institution in which abuses have been committed, that they occur in others as well (family, entertainment, socio-cultural and sports institutions…). It is ignominious for that institution that presented itself precisely as supreme and infallible guarantor of the truth and goodness, as a home of humane behaviour, as a model of Jesus’ Gospel. It betrays the countless modest people who trusted her throughout so many centuries.

But the moment of truth is arriving. It is not the truth of the confessional, of the guilt that deserves punishment before the “divine law”; it is not the truth of confessing “a sin against chastity” before a priest and receiving his absolution in the name of “God”, as if “God” were the only victim; it is not the truth of recovering the mercy of the High and of being free from anguish until the next time; it is not the truth of the private and secret penance, and perhaps of a discreet transfer of the “sinner” until history repeats itself wherever he is, to the misfortune of his poor victims. Those truths of the old theology of sin and pardon, the truths of the entire Catholic penitential system are, overall, a great lie. And that neurotic truth, brimming with condemnation and repressed sexuality, immaturity, narcissism and anguish, partly explains many behaviours of sexual abuse against minors or adults.

Lies do not set us free. “The truth will set you free”, said Jesus. All psychological and sociological sciences state it. Victims, abusers, you and I, society in general –we are all part of one body- will only be free when we recognize the truth: the truth of the inflicted damage, of the endured suffering; the truth of so many inner dramas, of the pain and its scope, of the humiliation and its life-long shame in many cases.

May all abuses, then, be investigated. And may these investigations never be controlled or directed by Church personnel. And may all cases being currently investigated by the Church be transfered to civil courts, so that truth may come to light more freely, so that all victims may possibly recover their peace and the pleasure to live. And also, so that the presumed abusers may defend themselves better. That, too.

May we all want and look for the truth that sets us free, the believable truth, the truth that heals the victims, first of all, and then the abusers and also the Church with all its silences, its covering-up practices and its deep and systemic falsehoods. May we all not want and not look for the morbid truth of media cruelty, of resentment, punishment and revenge.

Aizarna, February 18th, 2022

(Translated by Mertxe de Renobales Scheifler)