Grassroots Christians demand a "truth commission" from the Church to investigate the abuses and compensate the victims

"We demand the creation of a Truth Commission, financed by the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) and the Confederation of Religious of Spain (CONFER), but with an independent mandate to investigate the true magnitude of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Spanish". Several grassroots Church groups have signed an open letter in which they denounce the "denial and minimization" of the drama of clerical pedophilia by the Catholic institutions of our country, which they accuse of "a crime of cover-up".

The letter, which is titled 'Move from darkness to light'is signed by entities such as Alandar, Revolt of Women in the Church, Christian Networks, Movement for Optional Celibacy (MOCEOP) and Miriam Network of Feminine Ignatian Spirituality, as well as many grassroots Christians and media such as Digital Religion.

Among the proposals launched, the Catholic hierarchy is urged to create "a centralized office" that "establishes unanimous criteria for action and reviews the adequacy of the action protocols of the Spanish dioceses and religious orders in matters of sexual abuse of minors and other vulnerable people" and that includes, among other issues, the "processing and investigation of complaints of abuse, referring both to current events and to events that occurred in the past", the accompaniment of victims, "compensation measures" and the creation of "safe environments for minors".

No to pacts of silence

At the same time, they urge the CEE and CONFER to "ensure that the public statements of their spokespersons in no case minimize or relativize the reality of the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people within the Catholic Church and the suffering of the victims" and that "Any complaint of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people within the Catholic Church is investigated as quickly as possible." They also ask that "any priest, religious or pastoral agent who is accused of abuse be removed from his duties until the investigation of the case is resolved" and that "in no case will the measures of reparation or, where appropriate, the compensation received by the victims of cases of sexual abuse within the Church are conditioned to a pact of silence about the facts".

In addition, they warn of the need "not to use, in cases of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people within the Church, aggressive judicial or extrajudicial defense tactics, which suppose the impairment, discredit or discredit of the victims, exposing them thus to a new process of victimization".

"2022 must be a year of truth, justice and reparation for victims of sexual abuse within the Spanish Catholic Church," claims the open letter, which asks the Episcopal Conference to "stop the concealment of abuses and establish effective measures search for truth, justice and reparation for its victims and for the protection of minors".

"Sexual abuse, especially those committed against minors and vulnerable people, is a serious violation of human rights, a very serious crime and a horrendous sin", recall the signatories, who insist on "undeserved and unjustifiable damage that has conditioned the lives of innocent people to the point of driving some of them to suicide in the face of the silence, indifference and cowardice of many".

A situation, that of the inaction of the Spanish bishops, which "contrasts with what has happened in other countries, in which the steps taken have comforted the victims without thereby implying the end of the Church, but precisely the opposite" .

Know the magnitude of the abuses

"No one truly knows the magnitude of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in our country," regrets the statement, which appreciates the journalistic work that has offered some data "reluctantly admitted by the EEC" and that, "sadly they are no more that the tip of the iceberg of a drama that feeds on silence and concealment".

A silence and a "defensive attitude" that has presided over the official attitude of the Episcopal Conference for decades, and that "has not changed, despite the fact that successive abuse scandals have affected one country after another, both in the Anglo-Saxon world -Australia- as in Europe -Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Holland, Poland- as in Latin America -Chile, Colombia, Mexico-".

"All this drama has a lot to do with a certain conception of the Church based on the concept of hierarchy and the power of the clerical establishment," denounce these groups, who recall that this year marks the 20th anniversary of 'Spotlight' and three of the 'Anti-Pederasty Summit' in the Vatican. "It is essential that the Spanish Church goes from darkness to light on the issue of abuse. And it is time for all of us to do what is in our power to make this happen."

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