Tag Archives: Spanish Episcopal Conference

Spanish bishops react to newspaper report alleging abuse by 251 priests

From the link: https://cruxnow.com/church-in-europe/2021/12/spanish-bishops-react-to-newspaper-report-alleging-abuse-by-251-priests

On Dec. 2, a Rome-based Spanish journalist handed Pope Francis a journalistic inquiry of abuse allegations against 251 priests, arguably the largest investigation into clerical sexual abuse conducted in Spain to date.

On Sunday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni sent out a statement to a group of journalists saying that the report had been sent to “the competent authorities” so that it can proceed according to the “canonical norms in force, opportunely updated in recent years.” 

“The Holy Father has always insisted on his attention and closeness to the victims of abuse, with words, prayer and many gestures,” the head of the Vatican press office stressed in his message.

The Vatican has not specified to which “instances” it has forwarded the document documenting the abuses, but in virtually every case, sexual abuse against minors committed by a Catholic priest are investigated and tried by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Danuel Verdu, journalist of Spanish newspaper El Pais, handed Francis the report during the pontiff’s trip to Cyprus and Greece.

According to the newspaper, the investigation presented to the pope is “unprecedented” for the Church in Spain, as it includes allegations made against 251 members of the clergy and some lay people from religious institutions of sexual abuse against minors. The investigation was open in Oct. 2018.

The report was also given to Cardinal Juan Jose Omella, archbishop of Barcelona and president of the bishops conference, who immediately transmitted the report to the ecclesiastical court of Barcelona, where it was registered, to initiate the investigation.

The inquiries will have to branch out according to the competent ecclesiastical entity, since they affect 31 religious orders and 31 dioceses.

Several unnamed sources consulted by Spanish news outlets not related to El Pais argued that victims and survivors went to the newspaper, but not the Church, making any a priori response to the accusations virtually impossible. For instance, Catholic weekly Vida Nueva spoke of a lack of “fair play,” quoting a source arguing that when the El Pais did reach out, they ignored requests to be bridges between the institution and those making the allegations.

This helps explain why the bishops conference detached itself from the investigation, saying that though they encourage the reporting by victims of clerical sexual abuse and welcomes initiatives that seek to end the problem, “greater rigor” would have been desirable from El Pais, one of Spain’s major newspapers.

“It would be desirable that the accusations contained in the aforementioned report have greater rigor, since its content, very disparate in nature, makes it difficult to draw conclusions that could serve a possible investigation. Especially when the names of the accused are missing, the years in which the abuses occurred or refers to deceased persons,” the conference said in a statement

The paper has not published in full its findings from a three-year investigation, but Verdu gave a 385-page dossier to Pope Francis. The number of victims is at least 1,237 but could rise into the thousands, the paper said. The oldest case dates back to 1942 and the most recent to 2018.

In their statement, the bishops also argue that it is “necessary” that the same information delivered to the pope and Omella “is also given to the offices for the protection of minors and prevention of abuse that are in the dioceses and religious congregations to be able to carry out the investigation that would be appropriate according to the information received.”

The Spanish bishops’ conference also says that the report lacks data such as “names of the accused” or “years in which the abuses occurred.”

Although the report doesn’t contain the personal information of the alleged victims, El Pais has claimed that it has made itself available to the Vatican to facilitate contact with those affected so that they can testify if they so wish.

The conference also stated that “all initiatives of institutions and media that help to end the scourge of sexual abuse committed against minors or vulnerable people in the Church or in society” are, “in principle, a good collaboration.”

The prelates close their message insisting on “the importance of denouncing abuses” and encouraging “all victims to present their complaints to the juridical, canonical or social institutions that best suit their wishes.”

Spanish Church reels in wake of dozens of child abuse allegations

Pope Francis received copy of report by El País newspaper


Spain’s Catholic Church is under pressure to investigate allegations of child sex abuse by its clergy following revelations of a barrage of previously undisclosed cases.

El País newspaper has reported 251 alleged cases of abuse by members of the Catholic Church, from between 1943 and 2018. The newspaper says there were at least 1,237 victims affected.

El País said it handed the findings directly to Pope Francis during a flight on December 2nd. According to the newspaper, the pope “acted fast” on his return from the trip, giving the document to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the body charged with investigating abuse claims.

Although cases of abuse have come to light in Spain previously, the numbers have been much lower than in countries such as Ireland, France or the United States and the Spanish church has never carried out a major investigation.

Antonio Carpallo, who is 81, told of how he was abused by a priest in a boarding school run by the Salesian congregation in Seville. He recounted how one of the staff got into bed with him and touched him, while asking if he wanted to go to a football game. “I was a child and an orphan, how was I going to tell him I didn’t want to see the game?” said Mr Carpallo.

The vast majority of the cases are from between the 1950s and the 1990s, with around three-quarters of them linked to religious orders. The Salesians, Jesuits and Marists are among those most frequently cited.

The Salesian congregation, whose members were involved in 37 previously undisclosed cases, according to El País, has responded to the allegations by saying it will investigate.

However, the De La Salle Order, which faces 17 new accusations, has refused to open its own inquiry.

The newspaper’s findings were also given to the head of the Spanish Church, Juan José Omella, who is archbishop of Barcelona. He gave the document to an ecclesiastical court, in theory triggering an investigation.

Vulnerable people

In a statement the Spanish Episcopal Conference, which represents the country’s bishops, broadly welcomed bringing to light such cases, saying that this might “help end the scourge of sexual abuse committed against children or vulnerable people in the Church or in society.” However, it went on to warn of a lack of “rigour” in the report, claiming that this “makes it difficult to come to conclusions that could serve a possible investigation.”

The findings of the report are based on hundreds of testimonies gathered over a period of three years. El País said that the names of alleged abusers had been detailed in all but 35 cases.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Episcopal Conference insisted that the Spanish Church would not proceed with an inquiry until it received approval from the Vatican.

Jéssica Albiach, of the Catalan wing of the leftist Podemos party, said she expected the revelations to lead to a deep investigation.

“In Spain we have had years of delay, which is the fault of an Episcopal Conference that is complicit with child abuse, but soon justice will be done,” she wrote on Twitter.