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For our own sake: memories of a priest of the sexual abuse abusive Opus Dei



It is hard to believe that many years ago there was no place where no one was surprised by the desire to investigate such intimate areas of teenage life without questioning the basic reasons that could have existed for her. On the other hand, this "involuntary tutoring" could only take place within a system of asymmetric power relations where the "no" option on the part of the guest almost did not exist, which in practice put pressure on them. In other words, abuse of power, completely normalized.

I have spent a good part of my childhood and adolescence in the same school where Patricio Astorquiza (priest Opus Dei was recently charged with abuse) was serving his ministry.

He performed above the other priests because of his high dedication to school, his slim and athletic personalities (he had run for school more than a week, for more than an hour, which was a very good step) and a reputation for being prepared in the field of finance (it was said, that he is an economist).

But his most remarkable behavior was to find food in garbage dumps … and eat.

It was said that this year he gained this custom as a missionary in Africa and was an example of renunciation, sacrifice, and austerity. Something we should appreciate. However, for most of us, we just eaten garbage.

In men's school it was more than just a joke. For example, when we carefully leave the moldy maracette with laxative jam inside the dump and we are ready to observe the inevitable result of temptation from a distance … the priest did not come to the oratory, but he managed to escape in the bathroom high school if we follow.

Despite the fact that we knew exactly who he was (his infinite, polished 44-foot boots came out of the cabin), we made fun of his rattle how we would have made fun of any partner under these circumstances. Or even a little more. "Muñoz, leave your brothers a plum, go into the house."

The priest, stoic, was silent.

Until she had begun to reproach, I never heard of sex stories about him or about other religions in the school. Although I have remembered several forms of "spiritual help and escort" that are fairly common in these courts, which today is hardly going to be well considered.

To illustrate, I will tell you a little personal story, which in no way pretends to be neither the single nor the most beautiful. Just an example of the things that have happened and which have been part of the education I have to live on.

It was common for Don Patricio to interrupt classes and ask the student to take him and make a "spiritual escort". This was the student many times.

At first, the mere fact that she was "picked" at the age of 12 or 13, a small "triumph" in the classroom environment, which was accepted with good spirit, allowed us to protect ourselves with official protection as well as to begin before (in that, that the priest was very generous).

The rotation was long and could take longer than an hour. Suddenly, in my case, something that became more frequent and longer was happening, reaching the border that bothered me: sometimes it included part of the exit.

The dynamics were always similar: it began with an explanation of holiness, eternal life, or some other theological theme followed by personal praise and talent-calling to turn to signs of concern that quickly led to a great obstacle: "purity." That is, sexuality.

Since I was not used to talking about these subjects with adults, and less with strangers (at that time I did not include in my analysis that the speaker was the only, celibate, and almost 40 years older), I always closed myself to answer, the packed feeling shame, shame, and even fear, because he learned that "there is no equality in matters in the sexual sphere." This means that every sin is just as serious and only one is enough to guarantee eternal damnation.

Closed because it was part of the conversation, the turns turned into long and boring monologues, which I began to live as resistance exercises and even power and control, but more from me towards the priest (or I had felt it since childhood naivety). It was obvious that he was beginning to be impatient with my leaks and my always new excuses to avoid offering to ease the burden, accepted a grace that accompanied good faith, or a clear distrust of the promises of inner peace that would result from "everything was" , Besides.

I remember as if it were today a class of art in which the priest appeared for the first time in two weeks and knocked on the door. Immediately after, the professor addressed me and told me what I already knew: "Don Patricio wants to talk to you."

Moving through the mysterious dizziness that sometimes makes us inconceivable, I said, "What if I do not want to talk to him?"
She was silent for a short while and the priest left without protest.

In the breaks that followed, students from different courses asked me discreetly "if what I did was true." Such good weather was happening, and in the coming weeks, more than one teacher asked me to think about my attitude to authority, refusing to accept the training offered to me, and even thinking about leaving a school for a person who will appreciate it. These invitations were even worse than the interviews and walks that I resisted.

I have never had a deal with Patricia Astorquiz. Until recently, we arrived at the UC hospital. It was almost thirty years, but he remembered me just as I remembered him. That icon of our childhood awoke to an old man with a motor problem that hit half his face and which was connected, he told me, with a little known illness. We crossed several words and said good-bye.

When I went back, I thought of all the students who could experience these conversation conversations as an uncomfortable experience, an offense at the border of their privacy, or even more, with different implications.

In the 1980s, there was little room for questioning authority. In these courtyards, the modified school life led essentially two paths: non-reflexive obedience or dirty cunning, one that led many of my classmates simply to lie when their followers insisted on "how many times".

In addition to what the investigation decides on testimonials in this case, the short communique of Opus Dei does not increase almost anything. They talk about permanent harassment over time and conscience abuse, both with possible sexual connotations that occurred more than 20 years ago. But that may indicate a too broad repertoire of behavior.

Whatever it is, and although I have never personally experienced or did not know about explicit physical attitudes, I think it is necessary to specify our ethics criteria that should govern the power relations and the boundaries of education far beyond the basic requirement to avoid crime.

It is hard to believe that many years ago there was no place where no one was surprised by the desire to investigate such intimate areas of teenage life without questioning the basic reasons that could have existed for her. On the other hand, this "involuntary tutoring" could only take place within a system of asymmetric power relations where the "no" option on the part of the guest almost did not exist, which in practice put pressure on them. In other words, abuse of power, completely normalized.

But the most serious of all is the basic message that this type of education can print on a person: your own moral sense and your internal referents are not reliable. Good is already defined, and that's what other people who have special knowledge say. It is not up to you to raise your voice or oppose you.

Anyone who accepts this statement will be trained to make a non-critical acceptance of any order or instruction, even if it causes harm to themselves or to third parties. And it will be valid to respect any given scheme, beyond its morals or comfort for the fact that it comes from authority and is in accordance with established order. Today we know, even at the scientific level, that this mentality is the basis for any experience, formula or abusive structure.


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