Archbishopric of Tarragona finds priest guilty of pederasty
The facts had prescribed but he is removed for 15 years of pastoral responsibilities
BarcelonaThe archbishopric of Tarragona has suspended Father Manuel Fuentes of pastoral responsibilities for fifteen years, accused of sexual abuse. Fuentes was canon archivist of Tarragona cathedral and director of the historical archives of the archdiocese of Tarragona. Thus, he has been found guilty of acts that happened more than two decades ago and which had already prescribed. The case was uncovered by ARA in February after David, who was abused when he was 18 years old, reported the priest and a person brought to the attention of the bishopric a second case that had affected a minor. Archbishop Joan Planellas, despite the fact that the case had prescribed, wanted to be forceful. "With the firm will to avoid any kind of impunity, and the prescription at civil level of events that occurred three decades ago, [the archbishopric] has considered it necessary to ask the Holy See to lift canonical prescription," the archbishopric said in a statement.
The Vatican has accepted the request made from Tarragona and "before the gravity of the facts" has accepted three penalties be imposed on Fuentes. In the first place, "the prohibition for fifteen years to exercise any pastoral responsibility in a parish or diocesan organism". That is, he could say Mass but not be rector of any parish or hold any office within the archbishopric. In this sense, Fuentes will not be allowed to be with minors without the presence of an adult at his side. Secondly, for one year he is forbidden from "the public exercise of the priestly ministry and ecclesiastical teaching". In addition, for fifteen years he will have neither "voice" nor "vote" as a canon in the chapter of the cathedral.
Archbishop Planellas exhorts Fuentes "to ponder his behaviour and to assume the firm intention of leading a life in accordance with the dignity that corresponds to his priestly ministry and to consider the most opportune way to ask forgiveness from the victim".
The case of a minor
Last February, after two months of internal investigation of the reported facts, the case was referred to the Prosecutor's Office and to the Vatican. Finally, to condemn the actions of Fuentes, the archbishopric has based itself above all on the situation involving a minor, since the other complainant, David, referred to an experience he suffered when he was of age and already 18 years old. In this case, the father took advantage of the good relationship he had with the boy's family, who were regulars at the parish of Sant Joan Bautista in Reus, where Fuentes was vicar. On a visit to Santes Creus monastery, Fuentes sexually abused the boy, who was sleeping over that night and felt trapped. At the time, David and his family went so far as to meet with the then Archbishop Lluís Martínez Sistach, but got nowhere. "Let us pray," was the message Martínez Sistach gave them.
Apart from being in charge of the archives, Fuentes was rector of villages such as Valldossera, Querol and Esblada, and since 2018 a priest for Selva del Camp, Almoster and l'Albiol. The archbishopric already removed him from his functions as a precautionary measure when the complaints were received.