I was exchanging emails with Dr. Gabby Dy-Liacco. He was helping me find a psychotherapist. He was looking for somebody near my place or somebody who would be accessible to me. Since I am already based in the province, it would not be practical to find a Manila-based psychotherapist. I am miles away from Manila. The exchange of emails went on smoothly until I got a surprise email from Fr. Jun Viray, S.J. He is the Jesuit provincial superior in the Philippines. He was the one referring me to an Iloilo-based psychotherapist. The email from the Jesuit provincial was a complete surprise to me. I do not know what his intentions were in being the one to refer me to a psychotherapist. It appears that he was the one who chose the psychotherapist for me. I did some research about the psychotherapist I was referred to. As I asked around, I learned that the lady psychotherapist was involved in seminary formation. Obviously, she has close connections with the Catholic Church and formally or informally connected to a Jesuit entity. I did not go to the lady psychotherapist. I remember to have been sent to a Jesuit psychotherapist after I made the disclosure of my experience of sexual abuse from Fr. Ruben Tanseco, SJ. The Jesuit provincial superior that time was Fr. Daniel Patrick Huang, SJ. I can only think of that engagement as some form of damage control, if not the initial measure of cover up. I am scouting for a psychotherapist myself. I found one whom I considered ideal for me, a layperson, not connected with any church entity, and a non-Catholic. However, no psychotherapy happened because I do not have the financial means. Instead of recognizing my autonomy, what I got was interference from the Jesuit provincial. I know what I deserve. I can only think that there remains to be efforts at cover up. After all, Fr. Ruben Tanseco, SJ who sexually abused me is not an ordinary Jesuit. I was told later that ordinary Jesuits would not know of this case of sexual abuse committed by this “respected” Jesuit.
On instruction of the Jesuit provincial superior, Fr. Jun Viray, Fr. Archie Carampatan, S.J. came over to Antique to see me and talk to me. He relayed to me the concerns of the Fr. Jun expressing the willingness of the Jesuits to help me in my healing. However, I was just struck when, in the course of the conversation, he said “and so it is not about money.” And I quickly replied, ‘Of course not. Why? Even if the Jesuits give me all their wealth, will I regain what I lost because of the sexual abuse done to me by Fr. Ruben Tanseco?” The meeting gave me an insight into how my claim for real justice is being interpreted by brilliant minds.
Justice is a battle to be waged and won. I eventually told Fr. Archie, that “I am preparing myself to die without achieving justice, without achieving healing.” I have a lost a lot because of the sexual abuse I experienced from the hands of a Jesuit. I lost a vocation I valued a lot and nurtured in the seminary for some years. I lost the person full of the cheerful and positive disposition in life. I was in the seminary to undergo formation under the Jesuits. I left the seminary deformed and damaged because of a Jesuit. No amount of money can compensate for the vocation that I lost. There is no moving on without justice.
Last night I had a hard time going to sleep. Rather strange because I normally sleep early without difficulty. What was striking last night was a flashback of one event. I saw myself in the Rector’s Office of San Jose Seminary. The Rector that time was Fr. Silvino Borres, SJ. He is fondly called Fr. Junjun. Of course I am familiar with the office. I was a seminarian in San Jose Seminary when I was sexually abused by Fr. Ruben Tanseco, SJ. I remember I was asked to come over and see Fr. Junjun. He was to give me a check from the Jesuits. However, there was a twist to that event. I was asked to sign a document and Fr. Junjun asked for my passport for photocopying. So I signed the document and handed him my passport. But I was told I cannot have a copy of the document I signed. Having finished the business in the Rector’s Office, I rode a car and Fr. Junjun was driving. We went to the Bank of Philippine Islands along Katipunan Avenue, fronting Gate 3 of the Ateneo. The check was encashed and the money was deposited to my account in the same bank. I notice that the check was in the name of Fr. Junjun. By the way, the amount is insignificant that I consider it to represent cheap justice. Until now I am still wondering why I cannot have a copy of the document I signed. Until now I am still wondering why the check was in the name of Fr. Junjun, and not my name on it. If the document is a legal document, I should have signed it in the presence of a lawyer. Instead of rejoicing for having money in my bank account, I became puzzled by what can be considered “Ignatian trickery,” if not “Jesuit deceipt.” If that is the case, it was another form of victimization and cover up. It is a wrong that needs to be corrected. I remembered it last night as a flashback. It made me awake for quite a while last night.
I would read about things like “shared mission in Christ” and “sharing the joy of the Gospel.” They are empty words. Mere rhetoric. Christmas means justice that is real and concrete for a victim of sexual abuse like me. I do not have anything to celebrate for now. Perhaps, I can celebrate Christmas and its real essence when justice is achieved, should that time comes. Meantime, everything is put on hold.
I have not been going to mass for years. I cannot remember the last time I attended one.
When I see the priest gesturing during the Mass, blessing people, raising the host during consecration, I would have the poignant feeling about how Fr. Ruben Tanseco’s hands touched me and molested me. There would always be the flashback of those hands that played with my penis and masturbated me.
When I hear the priest saying the prayers during the Mass, I think of the lips saying those prayers as the very same lips of Fr. Ruben Tanseco that sucked my penis.
These are flashbacks of how I was sexually abused by somebody powerful, somebody who would rub elbows with prominent people in society, somebody who has a vow of chastity and yet has the capacity to violate that vow. In sexually abusing me, Fr. Ruben Tanseco did not just violate his vow of chastity. He has also made me become an angry, distrustful, and isolated person. How can I appreciate whatever meaning the Mass would have for Catholic like me with such an experience of sexual abuse?
My experience of sexual abuse has brought me too far from the sacraments and from the Church. I am on the brink of losing my faith. There are victims of sexual abuse by priests who did not just lose their faith, but became enemies of the Church. I yearn to save my faith in the Catholic Church I grew up with and once intended to serve as a priest myself. I yearn to seek real justice from the very same Catholic Church that has hurt me when Fr. Ruben Tanseco, S.J. sexually abused me.
Fr. Ruben Tanseco sexually abused me and he is a Jesuit. As a Jesuit, he was trained in Ignatian spirituality. In his priestly ministry, he must be teaching and imparting Ignatian spirituality. But what is Ignatian spirituality in the first place? Ignatian spirituality insists that God is present in our world and active in our lives. It is a pathway to deeper prayer, good decisions guided by keen discernment, and an active life of service to others. That is what Ignatian spirituality is. How do I reconcile Ignatian spirituality with the sexual abuse I experienced from a Jesuit? Apparently, the two are irreconcilable. If Ignatian spirituality tells me that God is present in our world and active in our lives, I lost God in my experience of sexual abuse. God was absent during those times that Fr. Ruben Tanseco, S.J. sucked my dick. As a result, I am a lost, disoriented soul and a shattered person because of my experience of sexual abuse. If Ignatian spirituality is a pathway to deep prayer, I lost my appetite for prayer, the Eucharist and the sacraments as a result of the sexual abuse done to me by a Jesuit. If Ignatian spirituality is the pathway to good decisions guided by keen discernment, apparently the opposite is true when in sexually abusing, Fr. Ruben Tanseco, S.J. was guided by his own sexual desires despite his vow of chastity as a religious. As a spiritual director and counselor, he must have guided people through the path of Ignatian discernment which he himself failed to practice when he sexually abused me. If Ignatian spirituality leads people to an active life of service to others, my experience of sexual abuse from Fr. Ruben Tanseco, S.J. is an anomaly which can be considered an hypocritical life of abusing others. I just cannot reconcile Ignatian spirituality with my experience of sexual abuse from the very Jesuit who preaches it.
I was sexually abused by Fr. Ruben Tanseco. He is a priest and a Jesuit. I can only imagine how he was preying on a seminarian like me. Perhaps there was clericalism in my blood to have trusted and admired priests and Jesuits. Clericalism involves an assumption of the moral superiority of a priest and this priest happened to be a Jesuit. Priests are even considered alter Christus and exemplars of the moral life.
I can still remember being taught by Jesuit moral theologians. To be sexually abused by a priest and a Jesuit had its own devastating effects on me, especially when I think of morality. I used to link morality to my Catholic faith. As a victim of sexual abuse by a priest and a Jesuit, my view of morality would no longer involve the Catholic faith or religion or God for that matter. One of the questions I would ask my students is: Granted you do not have a soul, will you continue to do good? It is a deep-seated effect of sexual abuse on me. Sexual abuse is a grave moral failure especially when committed by a priest, much more so by a Jesuit.
Reading the signs of the times, how can the abuse become corrected? Securing justice and healing for victims is of paramount importance. It is erroneous and fallacious to think of victims as interested in getting money when a victim seeks justice. Jesuits should not be concerned about their financial position when justice and healing for victims are important to them. Having learned moral theology from Jesuit moral theologians, there is such a thing called moral duty and the moral duty of Jesuits is to put justice and healing of victims first, without excuses.