Congress votes to investigate sexual abuse in the Church

Congress votes to investigate sexual abuse in the Church

Miguel Hurtado, victim of clerical sexual abuse. / EP

A non-law proposal from the PSOE and PNV advocates entrusting the Ombudsman to direct the work of the experts

Congress votes this Thursday on a non-law proposal presented by the PSOE and the PNV to create a commission to investigate sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

To avoid the "media circus" and preserve the privacy of the victims, the text entrusts the Ombudsman with the leadership of the work, in which the ecclesiastical hierarchy will be involved.

With this initiative, Spain wants to follow in the footsteps of Germany, France, Portugal, Poland, Belgium and Australia, countries that have investigated sexual assaults perpetrated by the clergy.

The positions on the project do not arouse consensus. While the PSOE and the PNV want the institution led by Ángel Gabilondo to carry the weight of the investigations, United We Can, ERC and EH Bildu are betting on a truth commission, with powers to collect documentation and compel witnesses and personalities to appear

According to the minority partner of the Government, the powers of the Ombudsman, on which the investigative body will depend, prevent it from exercising an oversight role, given that it lacks coercive means. That is why the forces to the left of the PSOE want a parliamentary subcommittee to carry out the task of clarifying the truth.

Victims' associations are divided on the role and nature of the commission. Stolen Childhood, of which Juan Cuatrecasas, a socialist deputy, is the leader, supports the investigation directed by Ángel Gabilongo, while other organizations such as Mans Petites and the Vicki Bernadet Foundation, as well as personalities such as Miquel Hurtado and the writer Alejandro Palomas, are in favor of a truth commission, in the style of those set up in France and Australia.

The force most hostile to the idea of ​​setting up an investigative commission is Vox, which sees the initiative as an attack on the Catholic Church, and compares the project to the law of historical memory. The PP, which until now had opposed the claim, has opened to support the format of the Ombudsman. Sources familiar with the negotiations assure that this time the PP votes will not swell the 'no' block, but will go to abstention.

The jurists who are part of that commission are expected to make legislative recommendations to prevent a recurrence of the situation.

In the wake of events, the Spanish Episcopal Conference has commissioned the Cremades & Calvo Sotelo law firm to carry out an audit to clarify the facts. It does so after opening victim assistance offices whose results have been very meager. “We will go to the bottom. Until the whole truth comes out, ”said the president of the firm, Javier Cremades. The leaders of the office assure that their work will be inspired by the modem French investigation, which put the number of victims at 216,000.

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