Argentine Abuse Victim Still Waiting for Justice from the Church

In 1992, two boys attending minor seminary in Parana, in northeastern Argentina, reported that Father Justo Ilarraz, spiritual director for the seminarians, had sexually abused them.

The then-prefect of the seminary, Juan Alberto Piuggari, today archbishop of Parana, led them to the office of the then-head of the diocese, Archbishop Estanislao Esteban Karlic.

(Karlic, now 96, led the Argentine bishops’ conference between 1996 and 2002, and was created a cardinal in 2007.)

Estimates indicate that between 1984 and 1992, Ilarraz abused at least 50 children. In 1992, he confessed to having “amorous and abusive relationships with minor seminarians.”

To this day, he remains a priest, despite a 25-year prison sentence that came after his case led to the revision of the statutes of limitations for sexual abuse in Argentina.

“No one wanted to walk with us,” said Hernan Rausch, one of Ilaraz’s survivors who spoke out in a second process, in 1995. “Everyone was somehow involved, so each of them chose to defend themselves instead of supporting the victims.”

Despite having more than enough reasons to be angry at the Catholic Church, Rausch says he has directed his anger at the hierarchy, which “spends too much time on needless things, and too little time reading the Gospel.”

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