The Episcopal Conference says it will investigate abuses in the dioceses and rejects an independent commission

The president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Juan José Omella, stated this Friday that they are investigating through the dioceses the abuses of minors reported in a 385-page report that El País sent to Omella himself and to the Pope in December. However, he has said that they will not make an independent commission for it because “it is not necessary to multiply entities without necessity.”

The Episcopal Conference offers the bishops to investigate the abuses of the Pope's report

The Episcopal Conference offers the bishops to investigate the abuses of the Pope’s report “if they see it necessary”

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The Archbishop of Barcelona explained at a press conference after meeting with Pope Francis for more than two and a half hours that they have sent the report “to all the dioceses and congregations involved”, that they are “responding little by little asking for data” on the accusations. “(They have asked) that they say who it is and we investigate. We have responded with the desire to clarify and bring to a conclusion, as is mandated by the protocols of the Holy See and the civil courts. There is a desire to do so”, has voiced. According to El País, a month after only five dioceses have contacted them to provide the data of those affected and that they can give a statement if they so wish.

Omella has argued that it is not necessary to carry out the investigation with an independent commission at the national level because, by doing it in each diocese, this treatment is “closer to the people.” In that sense, he has justified that it is not necessary to “multiply entities without necessity” and has indicated that the Holy See has seemed “good” at his planning. Why other countries and not others? “Portugal, France, Germany do what they think is convenient, Italy and us, in contact with the Holy See, too, and they have told us to go ahead,” Omella replied.

Omella, in addition, has wanted “so many other institutions to follow that path” that “in some way, good or bad” has been advancing in the Church “to avoid that scourge or evil that affects so many areas of society.”

Cañizares criticizes that “it is not prudent to report without data”

The Cardinal of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares, also present at the press conference, has broken the apparent harmony that Omella intended to show about the Church’s attitude towards abuses, criticizing that “it is not prudent to denounce without data”: “I fully ratify what has said, but I also add that in all the dioceses, I speak for mine, they are acting with maximum prudence (…) Prudence. Also in the media. They don’t have it. The Country hasn’t had it. It’s not prudent to denounce without data”.

“We are willing to investigate, there is no problem,” the Archbishop of Barcelona clarified. “Sometimes we have not communicated well. The country has done a service, we received it and the people have taken advantage of it, and we are grateful. We opened the way to approach the victims (…) with dignity and always with respect for the victims, who have We have to look at the victims, look to the future and be proactive, to solve and get closer”, he responded after being asked about what happens in Spain so that the victims have more confidence in the media than in the Church.

Meeting of the President of the Episcopal Conference with Bolaños

In another order of things, the president of the Episcopal Conference has addressed contacts with the Government, an issue that was discussed with the Secretary of State. “The dialogue is open, it is not broken,” stressed Omella, who has announced that “next week” he will have an interview with the ministry, specifically with the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños.

“The Secretary of State fosters this dialogue,” Omella pointed out. “On issues of the common good, we agree a lot. On moral issues, we don’t always agree. In respect and firmness, each one has to contribute their way of seeing.” “We live in a polarized society, and it is good that those who govern know how to listen to each other, and together we seek what best corresponds to the common good”, concluded the Cardinal, who reiterated that “with the Government we favor dialogue, and the Episcopal Conference as well”.

Pope’s trip to Spain?

Will the Pope come to Spain? “We are working on it,” was Bergoglio’s response. “I think the Pope is very interested in a trip to Spain, as I imagine he is for Argentina. It depends on health, COVID… and other trips that he has scheduled, which are always from the periphery… We would love for him to come both Santiago and Ignacio de Loyola (Manresa)”.

During the talks, the issue of Catalonia also came up. “We must avoid any ideology that leads to polarization, we have to help heal wounds,” said the Archbishop of Tarragona, Joan Planellas, admitting the persistence of a conflict.

Did the Novell theme come out? “It has come out, yes, but we have no news. The desire to continue serving the community with interest has come out, and to respect the person of our brother Javier Novell”, Omella has limited himself to saying.

First reflections after the meeting with the Pope

Before the questions, the first reflections. First of all, the Archbishop of Tarragona, Joan Planellas, who underlined that he was “surprised” by the close proximity “to highlighting the issues and problems of our churches”, stressed the Primate, who added that “we have been more than two hours with him”, and we have “talked in a cordial and improvised way about everything”.

For his part, Cardinal Cañizares recalled that this is his third visit ad limina, although this “is very different from the others”. “I have observed a harmony that I had not seen before. A concern for the faith, that the world believes, in the face of such a harsh panorama of loss of faith and secularization,” said the Cardinal of Valencia. “I want to thank the openness with which we have all been received”, and expressed his hope for “a truly free Church that contributes to creating a new humanity on the basis of the Gospel”.

Regarding the meeting with the Pope, Cañizares pointed out that “the Pope was in no hurry, neither were we. He has spoken to us with sincerity, with closeness, tenderness and fatherhood. He is a father and a brother, very close to all of us.”

Finally, Omella, who stressed that “in these days, the fraternity between us has been made visible and reinforced, because we had time to reflect on issues of our ordinary life, to laugh with each other, and that fraternity, as it is lived as a family”.

The president of the CEE highlighted “that harmony with the dicasteries, which were very informed of how the pastoral care of the Church in Spain is evolving.” “Yes, I discover that even with all the difficulties involved in evangelizing the world, which has never been easy, it is worth continuing to evangelize.” “Being with the Pope has reinforced our joy in continuing to work for the Church, for evangelization and for the society with which we want to work.”


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