The Church receives dozens of complaints of sexual abuse, although the team that will carry out the "audit" has not yet been defined

The Church receives dozens of complaints of sexual abuse, although the team that will carry out the "audit" has not yet been defined

The bishops will derive all collaboration, or direct participation, of the Church in the commission of investigation approved by the Congress of Deputies and entrusted to the Ombudsman in the law firm they have hired, Cremades & Calvo Sotelo. As has learned, within the agreement signed between the Episcopal Conference and the firm On January 22, the capacity of Cremades to represent the Spanish Church in any field of participation or public investigation, as well as the delivery and analysis of information regarding victims, was included.

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All this if, finally, the Church agrees to participate in the commission of the Ombudsman. The spokesman for the Episcopal Conference, Luis Arguello, was commissioned to warn last Friday that “the Church is not a public administration” that the body led by Ángel Gabilondo can control. In any case, any official contact will be made through the law firm, which is still finalizing the composition of its work team, but which has already received around 40 complaints by mail. denounce [email protected].

'Affected' and not 'victims'

An email after which the victims receive an "Affected data form", as the document is titled, to which has had access, in which the complainants must provide information about their case and about themselves. At no point in the questionnaire is the term 'victim' used, but rather 'affected', which has caused some stupor in some victims' associations. Among the data requested from complainants are their personal data: nationality, marital status, age, place of residence. Further on, he requests “data regarding his condition: priest, religious, lay person, catechist, teacher at a religious center or religion…”, but does not clarify whether he is the complainant or the alleged aggressor.

Subsequently, they are asked to indicate "place and date on which the events took place", as well as a "description of the events as faithful, concrete and truthful as possible". After this, the document invites those "affected" to offer "data that verify the connection of the facts with a specific area or environment within the Catholic Church (parish, educational center, community, activity, etc.)", as well as "data that may abound on the treatment that the reported case deserved in the Church, from the environment closest to the events to the hierarchically superior bodies."

In another column, the “data related to the complaint or complaints, if any, made by the events that occurred and determination of the body or institution before which it was made (Church, Public Prosecutor, Jurisdiction, Ombudsman, media outlet) are requested. or others)”, as well as “their motivation for contacting our organization and what they would be willing to expect”.

In the Data Protection annex, it is ensured that the information provided "will be treated with the purpose of contacting you, responding to your request or communication and carrying out a legal and compliance audit, that is, an investigation at the request of the Spanish Episcopal Conference for the clarification of the cases of abuses produced, evaluation of the procedures and control measures taken for its prevention and for the repair of the damages produced”. "No profiles will be made, nor will automated decisions be made," they clarify.

“The personal information that you provide us will only be accessed by professionals of the firm or collaborators with whom the corresponding confidentiality agreements have been reached and guarantees have been established for the protection of the information. Where appropriate, it could be provided to the Spanish Episcopal Conference for the purpose of the audit. No international data transfers will be carried out”, states the annex, which stresses that “personal information will be kept for the period necessary to carry out the audit. Once they are no longer necessary, your data will be duly blocked for compliance with any legal obligations, such as responding to claims or information requirements sent by authorities within the scope of their powers during the prescription period of the corresponding actions. legal”.

Bishops who refuse to open their files

For the moment, and until the Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference meets at the end of the month, the steps to deliver the ecclesiastical archives for the study of Cremades seem paralyzed, since the bishops as a whole have not received more official information. than a letter sent by the EEC spokesman. It is expected that in the Plenary all the bishops will be able to listen to, and ask, those responsible for the firm, and it will be then when some bishops can present their objections and, even, some refuse to deliver the documentation.

A perfectly legal attitude, insofar as the ecclesiastical archives are inviolable according to the Church-State Agreements and, formally, the Episcopal Conference does not have executive power over any bishop. In fact, as this newspaper has been able to verify, several bishops, today, would be willing to refuse to deliver any documentation from the ecclesiastical archives, if a direct order does not come from the Vatican.

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