A new case of allegation of sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church involves a priest who belonged to the parish of San Antonio de Padua, in the municipality of Las Heras, in Greater Mendoza. And, as in so many other documented and convicted cases, the priest was transferred to another diocese, in this case to another Latin American country and then settled in Spain.
The complainant is a woman now 49 years old and who has been able to identify the abusive priest, 40 years later. He found it in the parish of Vicálvaro, Madrid. The priest is 68 years old, his initials are D. A. M. M., and denies everything that his alleged victim has gone to tell him to his face.
As a child, the woman attended the Church located in the foothills of Las Heras, the most populous municipality in the metropolitan area of Mendoza. She denounced that the priest who prepared her for her first communion abused her when she was between 9 and 10 years old, between 1982 and 1983.
40 years have passed and the woman does not forget those humiliations. Settled in Spain, she said she was only encouraged to tell her mother four years after the abuse occurred when the priest had disappeared from the parish.
The priest and the complainant, when she was a child, on the day of her communion in 1983, in Mendoza.
"I went to First Communion catechesis on Saturday afternoons. She went alone, and she was the only one, because the others were accompanied by her parents. When finished, the priest would lead me to a small room next to the church, sit on his lap and touch my private parts. He would touch me and tell me to touch him. One day I came home and my underwear was stained red after the touching, and I threw it in the trash so my mother wouldn't find out. I wanted to escape from there, but I didn't know how, I didn't know what to do. After communion I never saw him again," the woman told journalists from Cadena SER and El País, who made the case public.
Thanks to this journalistic investigation in Spain, the victim had the possibility to confront the abuser. "She just wants me to apologize," the article notes.
He was able to face him face to face. He found it in a parish of Vicálvaro, Madrid. The woman took off her sunglasses in front of the priest, sitting at his desk: "Don't you remember me?" And he tells her his name. The priest, shook his head, fell silent.
The complaint to the priest was made to the archbishopric of Madrid and to the Ombudsman. The diocese removed him the next day, last April, and opened an investigation, which is also in the hands of the Vatican dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.
As in so many other cases of sexual abuse in the Church, this priest also disappears from one day to the next and is repatriated to Spain and Italy. It is the same procedure that occurred, for example, with the priests who were sentenced to 40 years in prison for the Provolo case. Nicola Corradi (died in 2021) and Horacio Corbacho, before settling in Luján de Cuyo and in the headquarters of the Provolo de La Plata, had been denounced for abuses in Italy and in other dioceses.
The Mendoza who now lives in Madrid, said that only four years after the abuses occurred, when she was between 13 and 14 years old, she dared to tell her mother everything. And, although his mother went to the parish to denounce the priest, she was told that the priest had died.
Natalia, as the woman has been identified in the El País investigation, did not know until 2018 that the priest was actually still alive. The truth is that the religious left Argentina just after the date on which the woman places the abuses, in 1983, and later his trail was lost.
Sources of the Diocese of Mendoza, reported that the priest went to study abroad in 1984, returned to Mendoza in the late eighties or early nineties, but was not more than a year and disappeared again, they believe in Spain and then in Italy.
"We lose track of it at the documentary level. He did not make his situation clear," continue the sources close to the Church. They cannot specify when he entered the priestly fraternity, in which some priests from Mendoza entered. "A priest in Europe lives 10 times better, here they earn a third of the minimum wage. Here the priests are really poor," they say.
The situation was finally clarified years later, they explained in the diocese, when a new bishop arrived in Mendoza who reviewed the documentation of the diocese, noticed the strange position of this priest and ordered to regulate him, either with an excardination – transfer of diocese – to his new destination or by withdrawing him directly from the ministry.
"In 2003-2004 he was gone, that's documented, but we don't know if he left before." Finally, according to data from the Argentine diocese, on July 1, 2009 he was excardinated from Mendoza and incardinated in Tegucigalpa. Where, however, they say it is not registered as such," according to research.