Congress or the Ombudsman? Parliament decides how it will investigate abuses in the Church

Congress or the Ombudsman?  Parliament decides how it will investigate abuses in the Church

The parliamentary groups will have to decide on the investigation of abuses in the Church. If in the next few hours the government partners do not reach an agreement, United We Can take its proposal to the Board of Spokespersons this Wednesday without having reached a consensus with the PSOE. In this way, the two initiatives of the parties that are part of the Executive continue.

The bishops commission an external audit on sexual abuse in the Spanish Church, but without compensating the victims

The bishops commission an external audit on sexual abuse in the Spanish Church, but without compensating the victims

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The confederal group, together to CKD and EH Bildu, advocates a parliamentary investigation commission, while the socialists consider it more appropriate that the Ombudsman be the one to lead these investigations. The two formations have met again this Tuesday, without any of the parties having made public how the meeting has evolved. Given the lack of agreement, the request of United We Can advances in Congress. This Wednesday the Board of Spokespersons will have to decide when to include that request in the Plenary's agenda for it to be voted on.

The PSOE has managed to add the PNV to its proposal. These two formations are committed to an investigation of sexual abuse in the Church that does not depend on Congress. If the majority shareholder's initiative is finally approved, the socialist Ángel Gabilondo —who acts as head of the Ombudsman— will be in charge of coordinating the actions with the help of experts and the collaboration of the Episcopal Conference itself, which has also initiated a audit for analyze what happened in their dioceses. This proposal will be voted on as a non-law proposal in the first plenary session of the month of March, According to Europa Press.

United We Can has the support of ERC and EH Bildu. The three formations registered a joint request at the end of January to create an investigation commission on "sexual assaults in childhood and adolescence by members of the Catholic Church." “We believe that the time for good words has passed and decisions must be made,” Jaume Asens, president of the United We Can parliamentary group, announced on Tuesday. In this way, the leader of the Commons has announced that they choose to take the vote on the commission to investigate abuses in the Church to the Board of Spokespersons, after failing to reach an agreement with the PSOE in recent weeks.

The proposal of the confederal group, ERC and EH Bildu advocates that "the leading role" of the investigation be framed in Congress. "There is a question of feasibility, witnesses are not obliged to tell the truth when they appear before the Ombudsman," Asens stressed.

Gabilondo in contact with deputies

Faced with the reproaches of his government partner, socialist sources defend that his initiative foresees that Gabilondo be in contact with the deputies, since "during the time that the investigation lasts, the Mixed Commission of the Ombudsman will be activated in Congress and the Senate", Juan Cuatrecasas, PSOE deputy and founder of the Stolen Childhood association, told "Congress is going to be directly involved in this investigation," he adds. And he explains that the Ombudsman will have to appear of his own free will "or at the request of the political groups." They also plan for Gabilondo to attend the plenary session of the Lower House to present the conclusions of the investigation, which cannot be extended beyond the duration of this legislature, according to Cuatrecasas.

The socialist deputy, who is the father of a victim of sexual abuse at the Opus Dei Gaztelueta school, points out that the statements designed by the PSOE have been "adapted to the sensitivity of the issue" so that the victims "have a special voice." "There is not going to be a parade in Congress. Each one is going to appear following the model that he or she wants," he points out.

For its part, the United We Can initiative is articulated in several phases. A first stage in which they plan that the deputies listen to "national and international experts" so that they can explain "what is the best way to address this issue," Asens indicated. From there, they are committed to the approval of "a law that creates an authentic Truth Commission", which has "powers, legal regulation, a mandate from Congress, a budget and protocols".

This body that they intend to promote is conceived by the parliamentary group as "an independent body of experts ad hoc of the Congress of Deputies, which is of a temporary nature and whose sole purpose is the investigation of these crimes". To this end, the Lower House will articulate it with "faculties to request, for example, the documentation that the Church has in its possession as the Catholic archives". Despite not having reached an agreement, the confederal group is willing to accept that Gabilondo has a role in the investigation.

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