JUAN CARLOS CRUZ / Victim of abuse by the Chilean Church

“The Pope asked me for forgiveness, he is frightened about the abuses, this is a tsunami”

Carlos E. Cué

Madrid 19 MAY 2018 – 21:17 CEST

Juan Carlos Cruz has still not recovered from his stupor. Three months ago, this victim of abuse by the Chilean priest Fernando Karadima carried out a dialectical clash with the Pope, who in full trip to the southern country accused him of launching “infamies” against Bishop Juan Barros, a disciple of Karadima, who according to Cruz was present when he abused him. Afterwards, the Pope took a 180 degree turn, invited him for a week to Santa Marta, his residence, asked for forgiveness and believed him. And now he has seen how the 34 Chilean bishops resigned forced by Francis. An unprecedented success that marks a milestone in the struggle of victims around the world. Cruz answers by phone to EL PAÍS, very excited and confident that the turn of the Pope is final.

Question. How do you feel about? the news of the resignation of the 34 bishops?

Answer. I’m over the top After spending a week at the Pope’s house talking to him for hours, as if I had known him all my life, and he was so affectionate, now to see that in the letter to the Chilean bishops, he told them many things that we talked about, that he took it very seriously, as when he talks about the corruption of bishops, and accuses them of hiding documents, or of minimizing things. I was thrilled that he took what we talked so seriously. I felt that our visit was not a matter of protocol, of public relations.

Q. What did he tell you?

R. We have talked about everything, about my life, about what happened to me, about the inaction of the bishops, how they tried to make us feel guilty. He was told that I was a deranged person. The Pope later told his secretary “Juan Carlos can not be more affectionate, it’s wonderful to have known him”.

Q. Did you explain that he traveled to Chile deceived? He defended there the idea that everything was infamy.

A. The first thing he said to me was “I want to apologize, in the name of the Pope and the Church for everything you have gone through. I apologize for me, because I was the cause of this situation that caused you so much pain in these last months. ” I replied that he can not be surrounded by people like the nuncio who is nefarious, the cardinal Errazuriz who misinforms him, who is toxic. And then he has bishops who are a real mafia, who cover everything, they minimize it. The Pope was frightened. I told him that those men have sunk his image in Chile, that’s why it happened that there were few people in the Masses. He told me that he loved going to Chile but he had seen strange things. I saw him hurt because he went to Chile with such bad information, that’s why I believe him.

Q. Did you tell him about the abuses?

R. Yes, in a lot of detail. I cried and he looked hurt. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Cry my boy.”

Q. Did you explain that you are still a believer?

R. Yes, of course. They had told him that I did not believe, that I was an enemy of the Church. I told him that this made me very angry because I continue to believe, and still love the Church, thinking that all this can change.[1] “My faith is tremendously important to me, Your Holiness,” I said to him. I find it frightening that they even treat me like this to destroy me. “That is a tremendous evil,” he replied. I explained that I want to be a good person and I can not bear that as they did to me other bishops have done to thousands of people in the world, and this has to end. I told him that he already has a good reputation that he is a man who is close to people. “You can have a spectacular papacy if you take the bull by the horns and give a strong blow to the issue of abuse and send the message that the Pope is not going to tolerate this anymore,” I said. He answered, “help me to be guided by the Holy Spirit so I can know what I have to do.”

Q. Do you think that the issue of abuse has now been taken seriously?

R. Very seriously. He is calling me many victims. For me it was very worrying that people might think that the Vatican had bought me, that this was a public relations exercise. It was very important to convey the suffering of so many people, to explain that the victims suffer horrors and the bishops cover their backs. I think he understood, the letter is very clear. Blast the bishops. I think asking for the resignation of an entire episcopal conference is a huge step, we had not seen it before.

Q. Could this Pope go down in history for a turn in the issue of abuses?

R. I think so. He is taking unprecedented steps, he knows that this is being seen by the whole world. I am optimistic, I do not want to sin of naif but yes. All this has a tsunami effect, it is already the Chilean precedent, it will happen in other countries. We are very hopeful. These people are very evil, all we want in Chile is to go home. The Pope treated us as kings in Santa Marta and the bishops as children. It is clear that he believed us. When he traveled to Chile he had bad information, I want to give him a second chance, he deserves it like everyone else.

Q. Did you talk about your homosexuality and how they made you suffer more because of that?

R. Yes, we’ve spoken [about it]. He had practically been told that I was a wicked person. There I explained to him that I am not the reincarnation of St. Aloysius Gonzaga but I am not a bad person, I try not to hurt anyone. He told me “Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and he loves you like this and it doesn’t matter to me. The Pope loves you like this, you have to be happy with who you are. ”

[1] All this: esto is a demonstrative pronoun and doesn’t refer back to the Church – it’s not clear exactly what “this” it does refer to; I take it to refer to the situation, what he’s been experiencing; I added the “all” to express this in English without trying to come up with anything definite.