An independent external audit, which collects all the abuses…. but without clarifying since when, how, if there will be compensation, if the files will be opened, if the victims will have a voice and a vote...
With the feeling that it is better late than never, the institution that for years looked the other way, that of the executioners, this morning presented its independent audit project on cases of pederasty within the Spanish Catholic Church. The Episcopal Conference has entrusted it to the firm Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo, to seek "transparency, help and reparation for the victims", in the words of the president of the Episcopate, Juan José Omella.
The Cardinal of Barcelona, together with the president of the firm, Javier Cremades, reported the signing of the audit – which "we are not going to invoice", Cremades clarified – that for at least one year will bring together a multidisciplinary team, made up of 18 people, which could be extended depending on the development of the investigation. Lawyers from the firm and external personalities, such as magistrates of recognized prestige and experts in psychology and other disciplines, will form part of the Cremades team, who has presented himself as a "Catholic, a member of Opus Dei", and who has expressed his "full conviction that the Church must go to the bottom, and rectify everything that is necessary". However, he did not want to value the sentence that firmly condemns a school of the Work for the abuses of the Gaztelueta Case. "I am here as a lawyer, not as a believer, or as anything," he replied to questions from this medium.
Because right now?
Why now, when for years the bishops have refused, actively and passively (even after reporting to the Pope, a month ago now) any kind of external investigation? "I want to apologize for the abuses within the Church, for all the victims, who have suffered and continue to suffer so much pain," began Cardinal Omella, who assured that, with this signature, "the Episcopal Conference wants to take a step in its obligation of social transparency, aid and reparation to the victims and collaboration with the authorities". Omella will inform the Holy See about this decision in the next few hours.
"We want to clarify both the cases that occurred in the past, as well as the most demanding levels of responsibility that prevent the repetition of cases in the future," said Cremades, who stressed that "the objective is to help and repair the victims, establishing new additional collaboration and reporting channels to the existing offices".
"I am overwhelmed by the responsibility. We want an audit that is credible, professional and that goes to the truth of the facts," stressed the president of the firm. "This is the most complex issue we have dealt with to date," Cremades added. With the aim of providing "a service to society and to the victims", the audit procedure will follow the steps of the investigation of abuses in Munich (two partners of the German work team will participate in the audit), although there has also been talk with Marc Sauvé, the person in charge of the report in France.
The Spanish "hybrid" model
"We will make a Spanish, hybrid model, based on the German methodology, also the French model and the work of the offices of the Spanish dioceses," the lawyer stressed. "We need the victims, their associations, the media, the Prosecutor's Office, the Ombudsman... We are not here to replace, but to complement," he stressed.
Will they talk to the victims, will they participate in the commission of the Ombudsman? Omella did not want to close herself to anything. "We want to establish a bridge that facilitates the work of the authorities, with a channel of close collaboration. The Episcopal Conference assures that it wants to assume its responsibility before the victims, the authorities and Spanish society, establishing a new vehicle that helps to clarify the facts From the past".
Cremades was clearer. He said that yesterday he himself contacted Ángel Gabilondo. "This investigation is done to also collaborate with the Government." Regarding compensation, the Opus Dei lawyer wondered: "Can someone in their right mind think, with a legal approach, that if damage is identified, there is no reparation?"
The president of the EEC asked to "look to the future". "The important thing is to be close to the victims," he repeated. "We want the work to have all the breadth it should have, in which direction to go," he pointed out, without "going down to details" such as compensation to the victims or until what date it will be investigated. He also did not explain whether the ecclesiastical archives will be opened, although at this point Cremades admitted that they will have to wait to see what degree of collaboration each bishop, each congregation, each college shows. There is not, because there cannot be, a mandatory mandate for all ecclesiastical hierarchs. "The Episcopal Conference is going to serve as a channel to reach the dioceses, we don't know what attitude they will have. The idea is to visit each diocese, schools and religious orders."
"We are going to try to access, with the lists that we have of those affected, and see if they are interested in talking with us. We are going to meet with the associations, one by one," concluded Cremades, who announced the launch of an email denounce [email protected].