The silence and opacity which, in Spain, envelop the pedophilia scandals in the Catholic Church – and probably explain the limited number of cases recorded in the kingdom compared to its neighbors -, begin to chip away. While the Spanish Episcopal Conference (EEC) strongly opposes the idea of creating an independent commission as France or Germany have done, and political parties have shown little interest in shedding light on the magnitude of the facts, the daily The country decided to force the Church to lift the veil by leading, for three years, investigation on assaults by members of the clergy on minors. The result is a 385-page report, implicating 251 religious, belonging to 31 dioceses and 31 different religious orders, for alleged acts committed between 1943 and 2018 on 287 victims. If we add the cases already known, the number of these rises to 1 237.
On December 2, on the occasion of Pope Francis’ trip to Greece, the file was hand delivered to an assistant to the pontiff. “Since the Spanish Church does not seem ready to investigate, we have decided to send it directly to the Vatican, which forwarded it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, responsible for overseeing this kind of investigation”, summarizes the journalist Iñigo Dominguez. In twenty years, this institution has investigated only 220 cases of child abuse reported in Spain.
The report was also communicated to the President of the EEC, Cardinal Juan José Omella. However, far from taking up the torch, on December 20, the day after the report appeared, the Episcopal Conference issued a press release criticizing the work of journalists, estimating “Desirable that the accusations which the report takes again have more rigor”.
Reluctant to centralize the investigation, the EEC asked the daily to submit its report to the offices for the protection of minors created in each diocese in 2020 – the effectiveness of which is controversial – as well as to the religious congregations concerned.
The Spanish Church has long been spared from the great scandals that have struck other countries. In 2018, when The country started its investigation, only 34 convictions for facts relating to 80 minors had been reported in the Spanish press in fifty years. Since then, the number of scandals has continued to increase.
In the fall of 2018, the Jesuits were the first Catholic institution in Spain to lead “A systematic investigation into possible cases of abuse of minors in educational centers in Catalonia since the 1960s” and to ask « pardon ». In January, its report quantified the number of minor victims at 81, while maintaining the anonymity of the 65 culprits, the dates and concrete places of the facts.
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The Spanish Church reluctant to lift the veil on child crime within it