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Widespread abuse is acknowledged in Roman Catholic Church in Spain

30 June 2023

Alamy

The secretary-general of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, César García Magán, speaks at a press conference in Madrid earlier this month

The secretary-general of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, César García Magán, speaks at a press conference in Madrid earlier this month

ALMOST 1000 victims of child sex abuse have been identified by the Roman Catholic Church in Spain, its first report reviewing past cases says.

The Spanish Episcopal Conference, it says, has uncovered allegations involving 728 sexual abusers since 1945, and identified 927 victims. More than half the abusers were clergy, and the rest were church officers, the report, presented by the Conference earlier this month, says. More than 60 per cent of those named as offenders have since died.

The report, To Give Light, says that the abuses occurred mostly in schools, seminaries, and parish buildings. Three-quarters of the alleged cases occurred before 1990.

The cases were drawn from victims’ testimonies, which were collected through 200 offices for the protection of minors, set up by dioceses. The Church hired a private law firm to oversee and audit its investigations last year.

“Members of our Church have hurt other members of the Church or society,” the secretary-general of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, César García Magán, said at the report’s presentation. “And for this reason, we feel pain and shame.”

He said that the Church was also committed to sharing its findings, and must use the lessons learnt to ensure “sexual abuses do not occur again in the heart of the Church”.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais alleged in 2021 that there were more than 1200 alleged sex-abuse cases in the Church between 1943 and 2018. It has been compiling a database of cases for several years. The Spanish parliament voted last year to open the first official investigation, by the country’s ombudsman, of the extent of abuse in the Church.

In a letter to the ombudsman last year, the office of the national prosecutor dismissed the Church’s internal investigation as “partial” and “of little use”.

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