The Spanish bishops have revealed for the first time a number of complaints of cases of pedophilia in the Church that they know: they affect 220 priests in the last 20 years, since the Vatican ordered in 2001 to centralize in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, his disciplinary body, all those that came to the dioceses. The data, in fact, were requested several weeks ago by the ecclesiastical hierarchy from Rome. The Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) continues without providing internal data or from the dioceses themselves. Neither of the complaints that arrived at the offices of attention to the victims that each bishopric opened a year ago by order of the Pope. "Today, the Episcopal Conference has no intention of opening an investigation," repeated the spokesman for the bishops, Luis Argüello,which maintains the Spanish Church as an exception in the Western Catholic world, along with Italy. The episcopal conferences of France or Germany have done so, raising 10,000 and 3,677 victims respectively.
In video, the secretary general of the Episcopal Conference, Luis Argüello, assures that the Church sent 220 complaints against priests for sexual abuse to the Vatican (EUROPA PRESS)
The first admission of the bishops comes five days after EL PAÍS published a reference database with all the cases known so far, which already counted 309 with 817 victims. It also indicates that 54 ecclesiastics covered up the crimes, including more than twenty bishops and cardinals. Until now, the Spanish bishops have always maintained that the cases of abuse of minors in the clergy in Spain were few. Argüello offered as a context for these first figures that in these two decades there have been 31,000 priests in Spain. In other words, the accused would account for 0.71% of the total. He also pointed out that in the same period the State Attorney General's Office has received 220,000 complaints of abuse,to show that it is a serious problem for the whole of society and "the focus should not only be on the Church."
Consult the first database of pedophilia in the Church
EL PAÍS counts for the first time the cases of known abuses, which include sentences, journalistic investigations and public complaints that have uncovered the possible crimes of a Spanish religious.
The 220 priests denounced are divided into 144 diocesan (43 of them still under investigation in open files) and 76 of religious orders (26 still open), so that in this accounting the cases committed by members of the congregations have been left out. they are not cures. Although they refer to complaints filed since 2001, they also affect events from previous years. The crossing of these numbers with the EL PAÍS database, which so far includes 89 cases in dioceses and 213 in religious orders, indicates at least two things: there are at least 55 new unaccounted cases of diocesan priests (the difference between the 89 known and the 144 revealed now) and the number of complaints to religious is clearly below the real number of cases.These 55 new cases raise the total of those known in the Spanish Church to 364 and the victims, to 872, calculating at least one for each case. Argüello did not provide information on the number of victims, or the dates and places of the events, extremes that, he explained, the Vatican has not communicated to them.
The announcement of the EEC represents a huge leap in the slow recognition of the scale of the abuses in the Spanish Church.
In October 2018, when EL PAÍS began its investigation of the scandal, the Spanish dioceses admitted only four cases.
Last February, in a new round of consultations, only a fortnight of the 70 bishoprics admitted to this newspaper that they had evidence of 45 cases, about twenty of them unknown to public opinion.
At the same consultation, a dozen prelates welcomed a general investigation coordinated by the EEC, but it is still something off the agenda.
Open to collaborate with the State Attorney General's Office
Argüello explained that the bishops are open to collaborate with the Public Administration and the State Attorney General's Office "to be able to tackle together this painful matter in Spanish society and to be able to contribute" from their "own experience to the prevention of abuses". "We recognize that at one time we have been able to walk too slowly, at other times, even look the other way," he reflected. He recalled that the Church took "a normative turn" from 2001, when the scandal of pedophilia among the clergy of the United States began. The last step of the CEE in this plenary meeting has been the creation of a central advisory service for the offices of attention to the victims of each diocese, which will also be available to the offices created by the religious congregations."It will be able to help us to have knowledge of what is done in each diocese," explained the spokesman for the bishops.
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