The Gaztelueta Sex Abuse Case – Opus Dei On Trial- Part II
Pope Francis Enters the Fray
While Prosecutor Calparsoro was pondering his future actions on the Gaztelueta case, albeit without any real enthusiasm for publicly confronting the power-house of Opus Dei in Spain, he found himself suddenly upstaged by Pope Francis who announced he was opening the case at the Vatican.
As noted in the introduction to this article, which the reader may want to reread to refresh his memory, on October 3, 2015, Crux reported that on December 29, 2014, Pope Francis issued a juridical order to the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to begin the preliminary criminal judicial process with an investigation of the facts, circumstances, and imputability of the charges related to the Gaztelueta case. The CDF received the commission to investigate the case from Pope Francis on January 7, 2015.
Ten days later, on October 13, 2015, Crux reported that the pope had closed the investigation in favor of the perp and the school.
However, when it comes to reporting all the Opus Dei-inspired intrigues that transpired at the CDF between December 29, 2014 when Pope Francis instructed the CDF to take on the Gaztelueta investigation, and October 13, 2015, when the pope ostensibly closed the Gaztelueta investigation in favor of Opus Dei, Crux is conspicuously negligent.
Let’s see what Crux doesn’t want its readers to know.
Opus Dei Challenges the Jurisdiction of the CDF
When Anaia’s father first heard that Pope Francis had taken an active interest in the Gaztelueta case he exclaimed “The Pope’s letter was a ray of light in the midst of so much darkness.”
Had he known the reality of the stranglehold that Opus Dei holds over Vatican politics and juridical enterprises, he might have told the Holy Father, “Thanks. But no thanks. We appreciate your kind gesture and prayers, but we believe the road to justice in our case lies with the secular courts.” And he would have been right, as the experience of countless victims of clerical sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic bishops, priests, religious and deacons in the U.S. has demonstrated time after time.
Thus it was, that the ink was not even dry on the pope’s letter to the victim’s family when unofficial and/or unidentified spokesman for Opus Dei raised the issue as to the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to judge a criminal case involving a faithful Catholic layman, to wit, an Opus Dei numerary, who had allegedly committed the crime of pederasty in his native country of Spain.
This challenge to the authority of the CDF comes as no surprise.
As Agustina Lopez de los Mozos, an Opuslibros correspondent has noted, “The world of canon law in Rome and in Spain is dominated by the Work.” And the Special Court of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith draws many of its canon lawyers from Opus Dei’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome and the University of Navarra, Opus Dei’s academic flagship in Spain.
A definitive answer on the exact canonical standing of the numerary lay members of the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei, as opposed to members of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, who officially belong to the Prelature, has yet to be resolved and is beyond the purview of this study.
In any case, it may be salutary to keep in mind that the pope is the Supreme Lawgiver of the Church and he presides over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, even with a Cardinal Secretary (Prefect) holding office over the congregation.
Also, that the Church has always considered pederasty a crime against both Nature and against the State, is beyond question.
Further, both the 1917 Code of Canon Law and the revised 1983 Code of Canon Law reserved canonical crimes or “delicts,” dealing with offenses against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, including pederasty, (sexual interference with a minor below the age of 16) to the exclusive competence of the Holy Office (CDF).
In April 2001, Pope John Paul II, in his capacity as the Supreme Lawgiver of the Church, issued the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela which reserved exclusive competence for the sexual abuse of minors, under the age of 18, to the CDF.
In the Gaztelueta case involving the Opus Dei numerary layman charged with the sexual abuse of a minor, he (Martinez) logically should have come under the discipline of the Opus Dei Prefect at the time, Bishop Javier Echevarría Rodríguez, who reported to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, who reported to the pope. This did not appear to happen in this case.
Further, the exact juridical channels that were followed once Pope Francis forwarded the case to the CDF Prefect, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller are still shrouded in mystery.
One of those mysteries involves the roles played by Father Silverio Nieto and his aide, Father Rafael Felipe Freije, in the Gaztelueta affair.
The Mystery of the Two Visitors
The mystery surrounding their visitation to the victim’s home is not that we do not know the visitors’ names and professional credentials. We do know who they are.
Father Silverio is a late vocation priest ordained in 1999 at the age of 51. Prior to this time, he was a merchant seaman, radio telegraphist, policeman and local magistrate. After his ordination he earned a Doctorate in Theology, a degree in Canon Law, and served as a judge of the Archdiocese of Madrid.
In December 2010, he was appointed a Consultor to the humanitarian relief program begun by Pope Paul VI called the Pontifical Council Cor Unam (One Heart), which under Pope Francis has been merged into the Dicastery for Promoting Human Development.This appointment brought him to the Vatican where he enjoyed a certain degree of attention from prominent heads of various pontifical offices and commissions.
Under Pope Benedict XVI, Silverio was appointed a member of the “Outreach Commission” that “listened” to the sex abuse victims of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ.
So, he has some knowledge of the crime of pederasty and clerical sexual abuse in general. At the time of the interview he held and continues to hold the office of Director of the Civil Legal Services of the Episcopal Conference of Spain.
The second visitor, Father Felipe, is a Doctor of Theology and canon lawyer. He currently serves as a diocesan judge of Girona and was also recently appointed an ecclesiastical judge for the Diocese of Terrassa in the province of Barcelona in Catalonia. In an Twitter commentary titled “Keys to effective action in the face of abuse: knowing, acting, communicating and monitoring,” Felipe proffers the foolish statement: “Today the bishop knows that abuse is a crime, a sin, and a tragedy for the victim and for the whole Church,” as if the Apostles and early Church Fathers were ignorant of that fact that pederasty is both a grave sin and a crime (emphasis added and further comment withheld).
The mystery lies in not knowing for whom the two men were conducting their fishing expedition. But before we tackle that question let us examine the circumstances surrounding that fateful meeting.
On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, six months after Pope Francis had demonstrated his interest in the Gaztelueta case, Anaia’s father received a phone call at his family home from a Father Rafael Felipe who explained that he was calling on behalf of a Father Nieto Silverio Nunez of the Conferencia Episcopal Española (Episcopal Conference of Spain), and that both he and Father Silverio wished to meet with the family to discuss the Gaztelueta matter.
This was the first contact that any ecclesiastical official had made with the family since the papal intervention. The family agreed to the meeting which was quickly set up for Friday, June 19th.
When Anaia’s father informed his son’s lawyer, Leticia de la Hoz, of Felipe’s call, she expressed a desire to be present and called the priest, but she was refused. Felipe told her “Better, no, because it’s going to be an informal conversation without canonical relevance – just a courtesy visit to convey the Holy Father’s concern.” Unfortunately, she made a serious error in not making her attendance a condition for the meeting.
Upon greeting their two guests at their home, the parents were presented with a business card with logo of the Episcopal Conference. Father Silverio, the senior priest, repeated the ostensible nature of their mission, “We come as personal envoys of the Pope, who through us, wants to show his affection and concern for your son.”
However, no signs of sincere affection for the young man and earnest concern for his health and welfare, or compassion for the hell that his parents had been put through were exhibited by the two priests. What promised to be a short, informal and edifying conversation turned out to be a lengthy two and a half hour grueling interrogation in which the victim was greatly disturbed by specific questions touching upon the abuse carried out on his person at Gaztelueta. Had the family lawyer been present, she would have cut the intimidating conversation short and shown the men to the nearest exit. But she was not present. Everything was told to them. This was the first and last time the family ever saw or heard from the good Fathers.
Who were Silverio and Felipe Working For?
Now to return to the all-important question – For whom were the two priests working and to whom did they report their findings?
There are various possibilities including the Episcopal Conference of Spain; the Ordinary of the Diocese of Bilbao, Spain where Gaztelueta is located; Pope Francis; the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Opus Dei. Two of these possibilities can be eliminated immediately if the statements are true.
First let us look at the Episcopal Conference.
When news of the June19th meeting became public, a spokesman for the Episcopal Conference denied that the Conference had played any role in the Gaztelueta matter. A formal statement was issued stating that “There had been no envoy of the Episcopal Conference in contact with the family,” and that the Conference had neither the desire nor the competence to mediate in the Gaztelueta case. This means that while Silverio was an employee of the Conference, he was not officially representing the Conference in this matter.
The next public denial of any interference in the Gaztelueta case came from Bishop Mario Iceta Gavicagogeascoa, the Ordinary of the Diocese of Bilbao, Spain, the diocese where the crime was committed. To his shame, the statement is true. According to the father of the victim, in the more than 6 years that the battle has raged in the Bilboa diocese, Bishop Iceta has never personally demonstrated the slightest compassion for his son or the family. Nor has the Ordinary publicly exhibited any interest in the case except perhaps to ponder the question of how the pending civil lawsuit filed by the now adult victim will impact the finances of his diocese. In a formal communique, the bishop claimed, “The pastoral care of the Gaztelueta belongs juridically and canonically to the Prelature of Opus Dei, so it is outside the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop.”
Regarding the possibility that Pope Francis appointed and directed the June inquisition by Silverio and Filipe, there is no evidence that such instruction took place. To the contrary, such action is highly unlikely as the pontiff had earlier assured the parents of Anaia that their son would not be directly troubled in the canonical inquiry of the CDF (based on the assumption that the family lawyers, father and attending physicians would be called to represent the victim and testify on his behalf). Also, if the two priests were serving as papal envoys, given the explosive nature of the Gaztelueta case, they would have been carrying official papers to that effect on their person and presented them to the victim and his family when they entered the home. The priests did not present any such formal credentials
Regarding the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a spokesman for the Dicastery, when questioned about the role of Fathers Silverio and Filipe in its investigation, told the Spanish press that the two priests were not representing the Congregation’s Court. But he would not volunteer any further information. Instead he reminded reporters that the Dicastery doesn’t make statements over individual cases and that the normal procedure is to inform the people or authorities involved.
However, from later statements made by Silverio, we can ascertain with a certain degree of confidence that he and Filipe did manage to influence the CDF’s final report leading up to the exoneration of both the school and the alleged perpetrator, even though Filipe had told the family that their interview had “no canonical relevance.”
As for the possibility that Silverio, (we will give Filipe a pass for the time being), was an errand boy for Opus Dei, here we have some positive evidence. Considering that Opus Dei is a defendant in in the Gaztelueta case along with the school and alleged perpetrator, this statement speaks volumes of the intrigue, the deceit, and perfidy with which the Prelature has long been associated.
And what exactly is the nature of the link between Father Silverio, the principle interrogator at the victim’s home, and Opus Dei? The link bears the name of Jorge Fernandez Diaz, Spain’s Minister of the Interior, and an avid disciple and supernumerary of Opus Dei.
In 2017, Diaz aspired to be the next Spanish Ambassador to the Vatican, one of the most important diplomatic posts of the Holy See, but his and Opus Dei’s ambitions were squelched by Pope Francis. The pope had already tasted a bit of Opus Dei’s treachery in 2016, when a Spanish diocesan and “associate” priest of Opus Dei, Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, was arrested and convicted for revealing Vatican financial secrets (Vatileaks 2). Pope Francis gave the plum ambassadorship to veteran diplomat Gerardo Angel Bugallo Ottone of Madrid instead.
Turning our attention back to Father Silverio and his link to Opus Dei, on December 12, 2013, the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial ran a lengthy article on Don Silverio which featured his special relationship with Jorge Fernandez Diaz.
The newspaper reporter drew special attention to the fact that Silverio was “the personal confessor” of the prominent Catholic Minister of the Interior.
From this fact alone, we can draw certain conclusions. The most significant fact being that Silverio is closely connected to Opus Dei since the Prelature frowns upon any member seeking a confessor outside of Opus Dei. Nor, is it likely, that Opus Dei would place such a powerful and influential supernumerary in the hands of a priest that was not totally loyal and subservient to it.
Now, if these conclusions are indeed correct, then we know at least something of the rationale and logic of the mystery visit of June 19th to the victim’s home, and where the information the parents fed to the two priests ended up – in the hands of Opus Dei’s canon lawyers and officers inside and outside the CDF.
Holy See Closes Gaztelueta Case in Favor of Opus Dei
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith closed the Gaztelueta sex abuse case on October 2, 2015. However, there has been no concrete evidence to date, that Pope Francis initiated or personally approved of that closing.
Also, the date of October 2nd is very significant. It marks the date of the founding of Opus Dei through the “Divine Inspiration” of Josemaria Escrivá, 87 years ago.
Knowing Opus Dei, probably not.
One week later, on October 9th, a two-page communication titled “Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the investigation of a case of sexual abuse in the Gaztelueta school,” signed by Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., a native of the Spanish island of Majorca, was sent to Imanol Goyarrola, Director of Gaztelueta.
Readers may recall the name of Secretary Ladaria in connection with the infamous Trotta canonical trial of July 2017, that took place before Pope Francis made Ladaria Prefect of the CDF.
I remember the Trotta case very clearly.
On March 16, 2012, Ladaria co-signed with Prefect Cardinal William Levada, a formal declaration defrocking Don Gianni Trotta, a religious from the Italian Diocese of Lucera-Troia for crimes of pederasty. The case had been pending since 2009. After the laicization, Ladaria told Trotta’s superiors of the Order of the Sons of Divine Providence to remain silent on the decision to avoid scandal among the faithful. Further, information on Trotta’s criminal record was deliberately withheld from the Italian police. To show his undying gratitude to his two benefactors, Levada and Ladaria, Trotta went on to claim more than two dozen additional victims until he was arrested, convicted, and jailed in 2015 for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy. Multiple trials followed. Trotta is still in prison, but not the two prelates who hid his criminal record.
This is the same man that sent the CDF letter to Director Imanol Goyarrola, the Gaztelueta School (but not the alleged perpetrator, Martinez) on October 9, 2015.
The letter states that Gaztelueta case was closed for lack of evidence surrounding the alleged “canonical crimes” committed by an Opus Dei numerary between 2008 and 2010.
Ladaria stated that the CDF had conducted the canonical inquiry with promptness and all deliberation, and with respect…for the dignity and presumed innocence of the accused as well as the rights of the minor and the witnesses. He also noted that numerous public and private documents pertaining to the case were assessed.
According to Ladaria, since the crimes could not be proven, it is the decision of the CDF (not the pope!) 1) that the case be canonically closed and the good reputation of the accused restored, 2) that the Ordinary of the place where the school is located [Bishop Mario Iceta of the Diocese of Bilbao] communicate in a pastoral manner the decision of the CDF to the parents of the minor complainant and 3) that the same decision be reported to the Director of the Gaztelueta.
So, the Opus Dei Director received a formal document on CDF stationary (Protocol No. 52597) on October 10th, that was backed-up by a faxed copy on October 15th (Protocol No. 52596).
What about Anaia’s family and his lawyers?
They were never informed that the canonical query was even underway and were never called upon by the Dicastery to present their evidence and expert witnesses. What they got was a phone call days later (not from Bishop Iceta but his aide, Vicar Don Angel Unzueta). But no formal written confirmation of the decision to close the case was forthcoming from the Vatican.
How could the CDF have held a thorough and impartial hearing of the Gaztelueta case without any representation from the attorneys representing the alleged victim and his family?
Also, we know that Opus Dei had secured the victim’s family file. The same file the father had given to Pope Francis, who in turn had given it to the CDF. Who in the CDF had given it to the Prelature?
How does that work?
Parents Learn of CDF Decision from Local Press
While Anaia and his parents and lawyers were still oblivious to the fact that the long awaited canonical inquiry of the CDF has come and gone, on October 12, 2015, an international press statement was simultaneously released by the Information Office of Opus Dei in Rome and the Directorate of Gaztelueta and reproduced almost verbatim by Opus Dei media outlets like Crux.
In a follow-up letter addressed to Gaztelueta families, Director Goyarrola claimed that the school and the accused perp have been declared innocent of any crime or wrongdoing
But the CDF never declared that Martinez was innocent of the crime of pederasty or that the school was blameless. The Dicastery simply stated the “canonical crimes” it investigated “have not been proven.” Or the statement may have meant that the accused, being a layman, not a cleric, falls outside the jurisdiction and competency of the CDF.
But what other conclusions could the CDF have come to when the only testimonies and documents it reviewed were from the defense, and when the attorneys for the prosecution were never heard from?
What Kind of Evidence Did Opus Dei Provide to the CDF
The obvious questions this writer will attempt to answer now are – Did Opus Dei intervene directly or indirectly in the Congregation’s decision? Or, perhaps, one better – Did Opus Dei canon lawyers go so far as to write the decision that Archbishop Ladaria signed onto?
There is one piece of evidence that we know from hindsight that supports the charge that even though Opus Dei as a third party for the defense in the Gaztelueta case should have resisted the temptation to use its influence inside the Vatican 1) to close the case in favor of the school and the alleged perpetrator, and 2) to influence any future civil trials in which the Prelature will find itself sitting in the dock next to the accused and the school. It did not.
Ironically, it is none other than Father Silverio whom we must thank for providing us with information regarding this charge.
In an article on the CDF inquiry which was published by El Correo on October 12, 2015, Silverio told his interviewer that he counted on the “estimable help” of an “expert psychologist” in the Gazteluleta case who had filed his report on the victim with the CDF.
Who was this mysterious “expert psychologist?” Silverio doesn’t give us his name.
But we are certain it wasn’t the victim’s attending physician, Dr. Inaki Viar, who is a psychiatrist not a psychologist, because Viar was never asked to provide oral or written testimony to the CDF on the nature of the crimes against Anaia that I have highlighted in Part I of this article.
Indeed, according to Anaia’s family, no such person has ever contacted either the victim, his family or his lawyer to arrange for such an interview.
Might Silverio have been referring to Father Filipe?
There is no biographical data to show that Father Filipe holds a degree in psychology and he didn’t introduce himself as a practicing psychologist when he interviewed the victim and his family with Silverio.
But even if Filipe does hold a degree in psychology, of what value would Filipe’s report on the mental and emotional status of the victim be after this brief encounter when compared to a report from Dr. Viar who treated Anaia for years after the boy’s assault?
And if Silverio was not referring to Filipe, then to what phantom psychologist do we attribute the report on the condition of the victim that was submitted to the CDF?
Could the report submitted to the CDF as evidence and/or written testimony by this “expert psychologist” possibly have been created by someone from the Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology at the University of Navarra?
I don’t know. I’m just asking out loud. But I’m sure the Prelature knows who did write the psychological profile of the victim for the CDF. Perhaps it will tell us… one day … but not just yet.
In the meantime, the victim’s father has asked Pope Francis, who he admires and respects, to declare the October 2, 2015, decision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, null and void.
Why? I do not understand. One is never to win over Opus Dei at the Vatican, no matter how just the cause.
But it appears still that “Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” for those who do not understand what Opus Dei is about, or what has happened to Truth and Justice and Compassion in the post-Conciliar Church.
But at least for now, the matter appears to be a dead letter, and the family is free to concentrate on the civil trial at hand.
The Current Legal Status of the Gaztelueta Case
Here on the secular front, there appears to be good news.
The formal complaint that the young man filed when he came of age at 18 has been making its way up the Spanish legal system for several years now.
The case now rests in the hand of Judge Emilo Lamo de Espinosa, who is also a member of the Royal Academy off Moral and Political Sciences, the European Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Transparency and Integrity.
On January 20, 2017, in Court No. 5 in Getxo, Spain, Judge Emilo Lamo de Espinosa found that there is “sufficient and clear evidence of criminality” to permit the case to go to trial. He noted specifically the “dominate” and “submissive” relationship of the Gaztelueta teacher over the young boy. He also cited evidence that the alleged perpetrator managed to isolate the victim from his environment and instigated bullying among the victim’s classmates, and he exercised undue influence over the child. The crimes include inserting object into the boy’s anal cavity and sodomy.
Judge Hears Testimony of Gaztelueta Classmate
During the preliminary court hearings at the Getxo courthouse, one sole witness from Gaztelueta, a former classmate (now an adult like Anaia), had the courage to break Opus Dei’s “Omerta” (Code of Silence) that has dominated the Gaztelueta sex abuse scandal for almost a decade.
In the last months of 2015, Opus Dei officials at the school had conduct an organized campaign of slander against the victim and his family They put pressure on Gaztelueta teachers and former students (now adults) to sign notarized statements declaring that the victim’s claims of sexual abuse at the hands of JMMS and the incidents of bullying were not true.
Twenty-five of these statements made their way to the judge after the judicial investigation at Getxo had begun.
One teacher claimed that JMMS’s office was not his alone and was used by other teachers and that all teachers had a master key to all offices.
A former classmate of Anaia claimed the alleged victim was not called out of class more frequently than others by JMMS.
Another former classmate testified that JMMS always respected his students.
Another said that JMMS never showed off-color photos of young girls to his young male students.
Another denied he had ever teased the alleged victim about being JMMS’s “bitch.”
Fortunately, the judge believed the later testimony of Anaia’s classmate who, against all odds and pressure, refused to be intimidated by Opus Dei officials and told the unvarnished truth – that Anaia was removed from class with unusual frequency by JMMS and met JMMS alone, behind closed doors for longer periods of time.
In his judicial summary, Judge Emilo Lamo de Espinosa placed evidence into the court record that the Gaztelueta management forced several families of former students to sign statement in favor of JMMS.
Opus Dei Numerary Takes the Fifth
Martinez has made at least two appearances before Judge Emilo Lamo de Espinosa. On both occasions he has been accompanied by his lawyer and worn a hat and dark glasses to hide his face from the cameras.
During his first appearance, which took all of 5 minutes, Martinez, now in his early 40s, proclaimed his innocence and blamed the family of the victim for formulating false charges and accusations. He said that to date, he had been unable to defend himself.
However, at his second appearance at the Getxo court, knowing the criminality of the charges against him were upheld, Martinez took advantage of his constitutional right not to testify against himself. This means that once the research phase of the trial is completed, he will not be called to testify.
There was a follow-up court hearing in mid-February 2018 and a (€) 40,000 bond was posted, but thus far no trial date has yet been set.
On February 13, 2018, the attorney for the defense, Eduardo Ruiz de Erenchun, filed a legal brief before the Provincial Court of Bizkaia in which he said his client denies “absolutely and categorically” that he (Martinez) has committed the facts described in the indictment.
In a later public statement, de Frenchun claimed that after eight years of a media circus, he looks forward to the oral arguments phase of the trial and is certain that it will end with an acquittal for his client. De Erenchun has a Law degree from Opus Dei’s University of Navarra in 1993 and has been an Associate Professor at the University since 1996. (See Artículo completo en Radio Euskadi)
The parents of the victim have reserved the right to take new legal action against teacher and school to demand financial compensation for “civil liability” for consequences of abuse which continues to plague the young man.
They have also asked for the maximum sentence of fourteen years for the dual crimes Martinez has been charged with.
Opus Dei and the Trial of the Century
Clearly, the Gaztelueta sex abuse case puts Opus Dei on trial before the world – NOT BECAUSE one of its numeraries is a criminal pederast (in our age no institution is free from this plague), but BECAUSE OF ALL MANNER OF MALICE, CONTEMPT AND WICKEDNESS the Prelature systematically incited and poured out against an innocent child whose only “crime” was telling the truth about his sexual abuse at the hands of an Opus Dei numerary, and whose parents Opus Dei slandered and deemed “guilty” for doing nothing more than seeking justice for their injured child, now a grown man struggling for normality against all odds.
My prayers go out to this courageous young man and his family.
As for Opus Dei, perhaps the Gaztelueta Case will do for the Prelature what the Marcial Maciel Case did for the Legionaries of Christ.
PS If any reader wishes to send a letter of support to the Cuatrecasas family in Spain, they can use the following address: Mr. and Mrs. Juan Cuatrecasas and Son c/o De La Hoz Law Firm Serrano 32, 1st, 28001 Madrid, Spain
Emails for the Cuatrecasas family can be sent through the De La Hoz Law Firm at: firstname.lastname@example.org