Friday, August 31, 2018

The case of Julio Cesar Grassi -- Cardinal Bergoglio Refused to See the Victims to Protect them From Murder Threats



Jullio Cesar Grassi: sexual abuse case in Argentina

by Antonio Tortillatapa
 
The case of Julio César Grassi has been holding Argentina under his spell for 25 years now.
Julio César Grassi (born 1956) was ordained a priest in 1981. As part of Liberation Theology and post-conciliar, humanitarian social engagement, he was particularly involved in social work and "pastoral accompaniment" for poor children and disabled people from deprived backgrounds in Argentina.
 
The decade-long economic decline of Argentina, the political turmoil, the impoverishment of large parts of the population and the chronic recurrent disappointed hopes with deep frustration of the poor population strata, formed an excellent [hunting] ground for the activities of Grassi.
 
Under Grassi's leadership, a large complex of social welfare institutions and homes for the care and support of children and adolescents from precarious conditions emerged.
 
Grassi promoted everything with a great media hype through television and radio, with publications and with very complex and opaque financial transactions.
 
Grassi excelled in tying politicians and wealthy, well-known personalities to his activities and facilities. Especially in the Peronist milieu (or in the political leadership caste of Peronism at the end of the 20th century), he found many sympathizers.
 
At the same time, his ability to raise funds for his facilities was very great, and he became widely known through television appearances.
 
One focus was the establishment of Felices Los Ninos ("Happy Children") for children and adolescents with problems.
 
The center of activities was the Argentine diocese of Morón, suffragan of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires.
 
In 1992, a lawsuit was filed against Grassi on behalf of children and adolescents at the Felices los Ninos in a local court.

The case was not pursued and the proceedings suppressed.

In 1995, the world public was shaken by many cases of severe and widespread and institutionalized sexual abuse of children and wards in the Catholic Church in North America.
 
Pope John Paul II wrote extensively to the bishops of North America.

At the same time, the sexual abuse of children and the disabled in Church institutions in Belgium came to light, in addition to abstruse advertising for pedophilia in local diocesan newspapers and religious books (affair Barzin , affair Roeach3 , case Anneke ).
 
At the turn of the millennium, the tremendous extent of child abuse was perceived in the ecclesial context of Western Europe and North America; it was discussed in great detail in the media.
The Church establishment responded in 2005 mainly with cover-up, beautification, attempts at deescalation and slick financial compensation.
 
The number of trials became Legion, the convictions increased rapidly and the compensation payments reached astronomical heights in the US.
 
In 2002, the Argentine TV station Telenoche reported in a sensational report that a lawsuit had been filed against Grassi for pedophile abuse.
 
The news struck like a bomb: huge popular upheaval, broad media interest, loud defiance of Grassi, and spirited complaints from angry family members.
 
Anticlerical resentments, clerical protective reflexes, competition between media holdings, financial irregularities and political fronts additionally colored the Grassi case: a victim was very fiercely defended by a protagonist of the Montoneros (left-wing Peronists); at the same time, much of the Peronist nomenklatura was associated with the omnipresent Grassi on television.

Extensive police and financial investigations took place.
 
The complaints were examined very carefully; especially the cases "Gabriel", "Ezequiel" and "Luis" were very stressful.

The sealed-off structures of the facilities were screened, tons of little Christian material came to light, many co-workers testified, and not least the horrendous financial mismanagement and embezzlement came to light.
 
Grassi defended himself in a very strange way:

He did not respond to the allegations and substantiated very hard-backed complaints with exhaustive, substantive evidence and evidence, but threatened with very expensive lawyers, attacked the victims loudly, tingled through radio and television stations and railed against a media extermination campaign by the Argentine press group Clarin against him (Grassi) and his private broadcaster.
Grassi refused to comply with a subpoena in court, became fleeting and also gave an interview with the radio before the camera.
 
The matter escalated: In 2003 there were threats and attacks with firearms on witnesses and claimants.

The Grassi case has now become nationally known.

The Argentine episcopate was already aware of the explosive nature of the Grassi affair in 2003: the responsible Bishop of Morón, Justo Oscar Laguna, had immediately forwarded the case to the next higher instance, the Archbishopric of Buenos Aires, given the complexity of the case and the manifold additional interests.
 
The victims and the witnesses, intimidated and threatened with firearms, asked Cardinal Bergoglio, then archbishop of Buenos Aires, for a meeting to stop the attacks on the victims and the witnesses.
 The request for a conversation was denied.
 
By contrast, the plaintiffs and the witnesses were able to raise their concerns with Monsignor Justo Oscar Laguna (1929-2011), Bishop of Morón (1980-2004) and former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner.
 
From various sides much pressure was exerted on the judicial organs.

On 10 June 2009, the Tribunal N ° 1 of Morón sentenced Don Julio Cesar Grassi to 15 years' imprisonment for sexual abuse of minors and corruption.
 
In September 2010, the Second Chamber of the Court of Cassation of the Province of Buenos Aires rejected all appeals against this verdict.
 
On 27 November 2012, the Supreme Court rejected all recourses and confirmed in January 2013, the first instance imprisonment of 15 years.
 
However, Grassi then remained on the loose for a long time for unclear reasons.
 
He was arrested only on 23 September 2013 (according to the 2 + 1 rule in force in Argentina - the period of pre-trial detention is double and is counted towards the sentence - he would have been released in 2018).
 
In 2016, Grassi was sentenced to another 15 years in prison for financial fraud and tax evasion.
Theoretically, Grassi will remain in custody until 2033.

By the way: the word misericordia (mercy) did not even fit in this context.
 
Sources:
Text: Antonio Tortillatapa
Image: Wikicommons / InfoCatolica
Trans: Tancred vekron99@hotmail.com
AMDG 

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