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Religious orders already admit 126 cases of abuse in Spain


After the Jesuits, seven congregations recognize 61 episodes of pedophilia, while the bishops refuse to review their past. The total of victims rises to more than 500

The abuse of minors in the Catholic Church in Spain continues to slowly come to light and, after the passage of the Jesuits two weeks ago, recognizing 81 victims since 1927 and their intention to compensate them, other religious congregations are already following the same path .

EL PAÍS has consulted 10 of the largest and seven reveal that they have also carried out investigations into the past or are underway, and also agree to compensate the victims.

They are mere file reviews, not rigorous studies, which they have not made public, and are far from reflecting the reality of the abuses in Spain when compared with those of reference in other countries.

On the other hand, of these ten entities, the Marist Brothers, La Salle and the Augustinians continue to refuse to review their past.

The rest admit at the moment 61 cases, 42 of them unknown until now.

If these figures are added to those of the Jesuits - 65 cases, 54 of them new according to estimates by this newspaper - the orders admit 126 cases, 96 of them unknown so far.

These numbers trigger the total statistics and raise the victims of abuse in the Church in Spain to more than 500, according to the accounting kept by EL PAÍS with information on sentences, media and its own investigations, in the absence of data from the Church and officials .

Until this month 125 cases were known since 1986, but at a stroke we have to add 96 more.

Total, 221 with at least half a thousand victims since 1927. That is, in a few weeks almost the same cases have been known as in 35 years.

And in October 2018, when this newspaper began investigating the abuses and opened a complaint email, only 34 cases were counted.

Later, this newspaper received more than 200 messages and has published about thirty cases.

The number has skyrocketed with numerous reports of victims in the media.

Piarists, Claretians, Corazonists and Legionaries of Christ have already carried out internal investigations.

They are Marianists and Salesians in it, who give provisional figures, 28 in the last case, the highest after the Jesuits.

Opus Dei completes its internal study.

These investigations are only a first and minimum step towards the truth.

The orders state that in the past it was never denounced, in most cases only the accused was transferred, expelled or left the congregation, with which he could continue to commit abuses in other places and the institution ignored it.

It is only a first and minimum step towards the truth.

Another initiative has been to open emails to receive complaints, a way through which some of these crimes have surfaced.

In other cases the religious institution simply finds out from the press.

For the Corazonistas, for example, there is only one case known, that of the High Commissioner of the Government against child poverty, Ernesto Gasco, who revealed that he had been a victim of abuse in an interview two months ago.

The orders state that in the past it was never reported, in most cases only the accused was transferred, expelled or left the congregation, with which he could continue to commit abuses in other places and the institution ignored the problem.

The Piarists of the central province of the order in Spain have only been able to trace the trail of one of its members, accused in 1972, who left the order and ended up in the United States.

They say that they hired a detective to find out.

The abuses that they have managed to determine took place in Madrid, Salamanca, Toro and the diocese of Cádiz-Ceuta.

They claim that they have not been able to find out more about the rest, or where they happened.

The investigations of the orders were not known and only now come to light to questions from this newspaper.

Its results are very limited and have not been carried out by outsiders, except in the Catalan province of the Claretians.

They do not offer details - names, place and date of the events - that if disclosed could lead to more victims.

They only scratch the surface, but they are still an advance in the Spanish Church, which until 2018 was silent.

And, above all, it further highlights the position of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE), a practically unique case in the great Catholic countries: it refuses to investigate the past and to consider compensation for these victims.

Two years have passed since the Vatican summit on pedophilia, held in February 2019, and the Spanish Church has hardly taken any steps.

By order of the Pope, only victim care offices have been opened in each diocese.

In October 2018 he created a commission against pedophilia to update the anachronistic protocols in force since 2010, but more than two years later nothing is known about his work.

The ancients continue to appear on its website.

The EEC has chosen not to answer the questions of this newspaper and refers to notes and press conferences in 2020. In November, the spokesman for the bishops, Luis Argüello, only declared that the complaints received were "zero or very few" .

As for investigating, the watchword is for each bishop to do what he wants, unlike the episcopal conferences of the United States, Germany, Holland or France, which have led extensive investigations in their countries.

In Germany, the bishops commissioned an external audit.

It took four years and in 2018 it was made public: since 1946, 3,677 minors have suffered abuse at the hands of 1,670 religious.

The Holy See itself published the devastating McCarrick report two months ago, which pointed out how John Paul II and Benedict XVI had ignored allegations of abuse.

The response from the 70 Spanish dioceses has been slow and not very transparent.

Except for a few cases, in Cartagena, Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao, the bishoprics are reluctant to make public the numbers of cases that arrive at their offices.

The vast majority refuse to inquire into their records and compensate the victims.

The truth is that in all countries the reality of past abuses has only come to light with authentic truth commissions - from the Governments, the Church, or both - that gave sufficient serious confidence to the victims to take the step of telling their case.

If not, they remain hidden.

"The balance is very poor," says Juan Ignacio Cortés, author of one of the few books on the subject published in Spain,

Wolves with the skin of a shepherd

(San Pablo).

“A very infamous protocol is still in force, they have opened offices in the dioceses, but very little has been done.

In Spain no one does anything, it does not interest, neither the Church nor the State, which in the past had to monitor because many institutions, from internees to orphanages, were part of the state welfare system.

Even now, in the few cases that reach the courts, the victims do not stop beating them, as in the Gaztelueta case, where the Supreme Court reduced the sentence from 11 years in prison to two.

There is a total lack of sensitivity on the part of everyone.

Everybody says: how outrageous.

But then they look the other way ”.

The accounting of cases in Spain of EL PAÍS: 123 since 1986

EL PAÍS counts for the first time known cases of abuses, which include sentences, journalistic investigations and public complaints that have uncovered the possible crimes of a Spanish religious.

Stolen Childhood, the first national association of victims, believes that despite the Pope's explicit orders, some bishops' conferences "have made very little progress and others, such as the EEC, nothing."

He doubts the effectiveness of the diocese offices and defines them as "a



" to wash away the past of the Church.

At the moment, they warn, none have contacted the victims who have come to the association in the last two years, almost a hundred.

“They say they help victims, but they have not released any reports yet.

They have not contacted us either ”, underlines Juan Cuatrecasas, president of the association and father of the victim of the Gaztelueta case.

"We repeat again that we open ourselves to collaborate with the Church as intermediaries," he says.

Gemma Varona, a criminologist at the University of the Basque Country who did a pioneering study in 2015 on the cases registered in Spain, praises the decision of the investigation orders, but in the face of the only known report, that of the Jesuits, she is very critical.

He believes that the summary they have released "is incomplete and methodologically very doubtful."

"They do not explain how they have done it or make the full study public," he says.

Above all, as the victims have emphasized, he believes that the number of cases he registers is "ridiculous".

"It is not credible, indeed, it is incredible that they dare to put it, a few years ago, as a start, it could be accepted, but we are long behind," he says.

  • Jesuits admit abuse of 81 minors since 1927

  • The Jesuits will compensate victims of abuses committed by members of their order in Spain

The investigation of the Jesuits indicates that 1% of its members since 1927 have committed abuses.

The most rigorous studies that have been presented, for example in the United States, Germany, France or Ireland, agree that the average figure is between 4% and 5% of the clergy.

On the other hand, reports such as the one from Pennsylvania in 2018 (300 accused priests, 1,000 victims) or the most recent one from France (1,500 priests, 3,000 victims) show that frequently an aggressor abuses more than one minor.

Varona believes that "the reports must be for the victims, who are those who need them, and therefore they must be transparent and well done."

“This question has to be answered: why don't the victims report it?

Why don't you dare?

That's why such a low number is due ”.

This specialist has been working in recent years on another study on victims, which she will present this year, and on all of those she has interviewed "secondary victimization is very clear": it refers to the new suffering that reporting and not being listened to and even mistreated means. for the church.

"They have stolen nine more years from me"

The case of Javier Paz, a victim of abuse in Salamanca, and one of the first to appear on television in 2014, recounting her case, is significant: “They have stolen nine more years from me, since I reported in 2011, because I trusted them, denouncing in the bishopric, but the canonical process they did was a theater to have me deceived and in silence, until they accused me of wanting only money, they humiliated me and I decided to appear on TV.

They crush you again and the wound won't heal ”.

He adds, in any case, to point out that another part of the Church does its job well, that in the current bishop of Barbastro-Monzón (Huesca), Ángel Pérez Pueyo, he has found all the support.

His latest setback: he has asked the Vatican for documentation of his canonical process and they have denied it.

Several orders have paid compensation or are willing to do so if the case arises but, apart from financial compensation, Josep Tamarit, professor of criminal law at the Open University of Catalonia and specialized in victimology, assesses restorative justice processes: “It is a dialogue between the parties involved, and they make sense because many are prescribed crimes, they cannot go to criminal justice, and it is almost more satisfactory for the victims ”.

The Catalan Piarists, who received advice from the Vicki Bernadet Foundation, resorted in some cases to the mediation of the ombudsman, the Síndic de Greuges.

“He was a victim that we located and he did not want to know anything about us, and thanks to the mediation we spoke with him.

It was very positive, many ghosts fell.

I suppose he thought he would find the school of the 50s and when he treated us he changed his perception.

At Christmas he called me to congratulate me on the holidays ”, says the provincial of this order in Catalonia, Eduardo Pini.

"If the Parliament makes an investigation commission, let them count on us, the Church has to face this and investigate it."

"For the victims it is very important that there be a secular and independent institution, because they do not trust them," explains a spokeswoman.

of the Síndic.

"In the meetings there was an important active listening, having someone listen to them is already a step, and then mediation tasks were carried out with the congregations."

The Salesians, for example, do not provide compensation and have focused on a restorative justice project in which, through an external work team from the order, they offer long-term therapies, lasting about 20 months.

They have already launched nine of these processes where, they emphasize, they try "in addition to improving the health of the victims, to be recognized for the damage suffered."

But the indignation of the victims is not only with the Church: “It is a shame that the Government does nothing.

It is a very tricky subject and nobody wants to face it.

All you need is a group of experts, an endowment and open an email, investigate.

It costs nothing and we would turn this around ”, laments Manuel Barbero, president of Mans Petits and father of a victim.

It is the association that opened a case against the Marists in Barcelona and has obtained compensation of 400,000 euros for 21 families.

“There is a lack of involvement of the institutions, which should have assumed the leading role, as in other countries.

In 2010 in Belgium it was the Parliament that intervened, and a special reparation body was created in collaboration with the Church ”, recalls Josep Tamarit, professor in Criminal Law at the Open University of Catalonia and an expert on victims.

He was one of the members of the commission formed by the Síndic de Greuges, the Catalan ombudsman, to investigate the phenomenon in Catalonia.

The Catalan Ombudsman is one of the few institutions that has intervened in the problem: in 2019 he created this team to listen to the victims and presented a report last year for the Parliament.

He asked for a commission of inquiry into the prescribed cases.

The Government of Navarra has also been sensitive to the victims in the provincial community: they were invited to the regional parliament, organized a congress on the problem and financed psychological therapies.

In the rest of Spain, silence.

If you know of any case of sexual abuse that has not seen the light of day, write us with your complaint to

The State has not acted on the problem in two years either.

The Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) and the bishops are not the only ones who do not move in the fight against the abuse of minors in the Church, neither does the State.

The Ministry of Justice, when Dolores Delgado (in the photo) was in charge, made a first move in February 2019, as a reaction to social alarm at a time when dozens of cases came to light.

He asked the EEC to inform him of the cases he knew about, a gesture that made him feel bad in the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

So much so that they didn't even answer him.

The next thing Justice did was request a report from the State Attorney General's Office on the problem.

That report arrived in June 2019 and was also controversial, because it pointed to the “opacity” of the Church.

However, he did not have data, because the statistics of the Prosecutor's Office include the crimes, not the condition or profession of the accused.

In any case, the report urged the authorities to act because "the outlook is poor" and "mechanisms of persecution and reparation in this type of conduct" were required.

Moreover, it indicated the commitment of the Prosecutor's Office to "collaborate and get involved in the initiatives that could be developed in our country to obtain historical knowledge" of the problem.

What has been done since then?

Very little.

The statistical system remains the same and does not give any information.

A spokesman for the Office of the Prosecutor admits that "this difficulty in collecting the data persists," due to the established computer applications, and that does not depend on the Office of the Prosecutor.

The specialized unit for minors maintained contacts with the Episcopal Conference and other religious institutions, to reinforce the early detection of crime and the protection of the victim.

They also opened a file to collect all the actions in this area, but they recognize that with the pandemic everything stopped.

"This issue is of great concern to the Prosecutor's Office and we take it very seriously, but within our field of action and the tools we have, our scope of action is the procedural investigation."

The problem is that the vast majority of cases in the past have prescribed.

In Chile, for example, the Prosecutor's Office took over the investigation of the cases and even registered several bishoprics in search of documentation, but here it would not be possible, the public prosecutor maintains.

Spokesmen for Justice also acknowledge that nothing has been done afterwards.

Partly because the change of government in January 2020 led to the transfer of the jurisdiction of Religious Affairs to the First Vice Presidency, Carmen Calvo, and there they have not taken up this matter.

The only advance has been the draft of the law for the protection of minors, which extends the statute of limitations.

It is one of the main claims of the victims, but on the other hand they criticize that the text does not make any specific reference to the specific problem of the abuse of minors in the Church.

The law, in any case, is still awaiting parliamentary processing.

Source: elparis

All life articles on 2021-02-01

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