Diary Details Horror of Jesuit Predator’s 85 Victims

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 9, 2023   

Pope Francis' instructor, top Vatican Jesuit covered up pederast priest

You are not signed in as a Premium user; you are viewing the free version of this program. Premium users have access to full-length programs with limited commercials and receive a 10% discount in the store! Sign up for only one day for the low cost of $1.99. Click the button below.

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Society of Jesus in Bolivia has suspended and begun investigating eight former provincials for their roles in protecting a fellow Jesuit who abused more than 85 males, including several seminarians, in the 1980s.

Fr. Bernardo Mercado, current Jesuit provincial of Bolivia

Father Alfonso Pedrajas Moreno's predation was covered up at the order's highest levels in Rome by Pope Francis' tertianship instructor, Fr. José Arroyo, and by Fr. Marcos Recolons, assistant ad providentiam to Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, the Jesuit superior general from 2008 to 2016. 

Padre Pica

Father Recolons, a Catalan Jesuit, is one of the eight superiors who has been suspended and is under investigation for protecting the homopredator Fr. Pedrajas, a Spanish missionary, who was popularly known in Bolivia as "Padre Pica," the Bolivian Society of Jesus confirmed. 

Recolons is also accused of bribing and expelling Pedro Lima, a Bolivian Jesuit whistleblower who threatened to "denounce the sexual abuse" of Pedrajas and two other Jesuit homopredator priests: Fr. Luis Tó and Fr. Antonio Gausset Capdevila.    

As admonitor, Fr. Recolons was responsible for warning (or admonishing) the Superior General honestly and confidentially on matters of his spiritual and physical health and "what in him he thinks would be for the greater service and glory of God" [Const. N°770]. 

Another leading Jesuit involved in the cover-up is the late Fr. José Arroyo, who served as instructor to Pope Francis during the future pope's tertianship in 1970–71 and downplayed Pedrajas' sins and crimes when he served as instructor during Pedrajas' tertianship in 1978.

My biggest personal failure: without a doubt, the pederasty.

Padre Pica abused boys in his care while he was deputy director and director of the John XXIII College, a boarding school in the city of Cochabamba. The pederast later abused Jesuit novices in his care when he was in charge of the novitiate in Cochabamba and Oruro in 1989.

The serial abuse came to light when Padre Pica's nephew, Fernando Pedrajas, found his uncle's diary in December 2021, almost a dozen years after the death of the abuser in September 2009. The diary was part of the priest's belongings that were sent back to his family in Spain. 

Explosive Diary

Pica's boyfriend, who lived with the Jesuit towards the end of his life, confirmed the existence of the diary and explained to the Spanish newspaper El Pais how it reached the Jesuit abuser's nephew.

Just before he died Pedrajas, 62, made his boyfriend promise to obtain his computer and keep its contents secret: "Whatever it takes, you need to get my computer. I don't want anyone else to have it," the boyfriend told the news media on condition of anonymity.


When the abuser's boyfriend accessed the computer files, he discovered Pica's records of how the Society of Jesus, including at least seven provincials and a dozen Bolivian and Spanish clergymen, covered up his crimes, along with the complaints of several victims.

"My biggest personal failure: without a doubt, the pederasty," the priest wrote in his diary. "I hurt so many people (85?). Too many." Pica's boyfriend sent Pedrajas' brother a DVD of the Jesuit's memoirs, never imagining it would end up in the press. 

I hurt so many people (85?). Too many.

A family member printed the contents of the DVD, kept it in a green ring binder, and put it in a cardboard box. And that is where it stayed, forgotten in an attic in Madrid until it was discovered by Fernando Pedrajas. 

Pica's nephew reported his findings to the Society of Jesus in Spain and Bolivia and Jesuit authorities at the John XXIII College, but the Jesuits refused to cooperate. When the Spanish prosecutor rejected the case on the grounds that it was beyond the statute of limitations, Pedrajas gave the diary to El Pais.

Cover-Up in High Places

The Jesuits, who had denied any knowledge of the abuses despite Pedro Lima's reports, apologized and suspended the provincials only after Bolivia's attorney general, Wilfredo Chávez, announced an investigation two days after El Pais broke the story on April 26. 

"This horror would have been covered up by the leadership of the Catholic Church at the time," Chávez tweeted.

John XXIII College, Cochabamba

"At first, I enjoyed it [the diary], because in the first pages my uncle narrates how he travels hundreds of kilometers through Bolivia to offer Mass and help the poor," Pica's nephew said in an interview. 

"But when I got deeper, I found out that Pica was a pederast and that the Order protected him. I felt fear, disgust," Pedrajas told El Pais. "The silence of the Church is unfortunate; it had known about the abuse for decades." 

Father Osvaldo Chirveches, ex-provincial and director of the Jesuit safeguarding delegation, "was very insistent that I send him the diary. But I did not trust him," Pica's nephew said.

"Marco Recolons must be tried. And if it is shown that he had knowledge [of the abuses], he must bear the consequences," Pedrajas stressed. "He knew for decades about the abuses perpetrated by Pica and other Jesuits. He covered it up with lies and continues to lie about the case."

I was expelled from the order when I denounced the abuses. 

Father Recolons is one of the key characters mentioned in Pica's diary. The abuser cites Recolons on several occasions as a friend, confessor and companion. The diary documents a very close relationship between Pica and Recolons from the 1990s until Pica's death. Pica and Recolons also lived together between 1997 and the early 2000s in La Paz. 

In his diary, Pica records his visit to Recolons in Rome in 2005: "A week in Rome. The most valuable: the friendship of Marcos Recolons."

Entrance to the John XXIII College  

Significantly, Pica also writes about a victim's complaint made to the provincial Fr. Ramón Alaix in 2007, noting that "he did not answer me anything about his compromised meeting with the complainant." Pica adds, "A small light, perhaps the only one, is Marcos Recolons."

"The Jesuits have removed eight people from office in 48 hours, something that has never happened with such diligence. It is further evidence that they were aware of the situation," Pica's nephew remarked. 

Pedrajas said he had not taken the step of exposing his uncle as "an act of courage" but because he believes that "the relatives of the aggressors must take a step forward" since "you are either with the victims or you are with the pederast."

Meanwhile, former Jesuit and whistleblower Pedro Lima described how he traveled to Oruro in 2001 to meet with the then-Jesuit provincial, the Spaniard Fr. Ramón Alaix.

Whistleblower Expelled

"I was expelled from the order when I denounced the abuses. He [Alaix] knew everything and that was his response." One day after meeting Alaix, Lima received a letter dismissing him from the congregation. Fr. Alaix is one of the eight superiors suspended.

At that time, Recolons offered to give Lima $3,000 in addition to financing his "tuition and credit academic expenses" so he could study theology "for priestly ordination." 

I shouldn't feel like a repentant sinner.

"A year and a half later, Recolons called me on the phone to tell me that the Society was sanctioning me and cutting off my funding [for the studies] because I kept talking about the pedophilia cases. It was a way to silence me," Lima said.  

"He told me on the phone from Paraguay, the country where he currently lives: 'I am not going to allow you to speak [badly] of my Jesuit brothers,'" Lima revealed. Lima is one of the names that appear in Pica's diary. He is listed as one of his novices during the 1990s.

Pope Francis visits Bolivia (2015)

The whistleblower also reveals how a young Jesuit who accompanied him to the gym in Sucre started crying when Lima asked him about Pica. "He told me that Pica abused him," Lima reported. 

Victim Commits Suicide

That young Jesuit victim later committed suicide. Pica not only abused minors but "also novices around 18 or 19 years old and vulnerable people." 

"The abuses have caused a deep wound in the victims and the complaints cannot be ignored even if the priest involved in the events is dead," Fr. Bernardo Mercado, current Jesuit provincial in Bolivia told a press conference.

Pica may have recorded details of his abuse because Jesuits are required to keep a spiritual diary and reveal their repeated sins to their spiritual director. 

In his diary, Pica records how Fr. Arroyo, the future pontiff's tertianship instructor, advised him not to mention the abuses in his confessions and not to consider giving up teaching. 

Nothing is going to happen to me.

At no point does Arroyo advise Pica to stop abusing minors. Pica writes about his conversations with Fr. Arroyo, "I shouldn't feel like a repentant sinner. ... Nothing is going to happen to me. ... [These are] isolated cases."

"We condemn these actions, we feel solidarity with the victims who have suffered acts of sexual abuse, we ask for their forgiveness, and we want to tell them that we share their suffering and disappointment for these serious events that have marked their lives and have been a cause of deep pain," the Bolivian Episcopal Conference said in a statement.

Reports about the homopredator priest have rocked the Catholic Church in Bolivia. It is the biggest scandal to hit the Society of Jesus after the recent revelations of Jesuit celebrity artist Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik's sexual abuse of at least 25 religious sisters.

--- Campaign 31538 ---


Have a news tip? Submit news to our tip line.

We rely on you to support our news reporting. Please donate today.
By commenting on ChurchMilitant.com you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our comment posting guidelines

Loading Comments