The Government has requested on Tuesday the Attorney General of the State to inform him of the proceedings opened in the courts for cases of pedophilia committed within the Church, both in the parishes that depend on the dioceses and in the colleges of the religious congregations. The information sent by the Office of the Prosecutor will never be the bulk of these crimes, because most of them do not reach the civil justice system but rather they are instructed in ecclesiastical processes. It is the bishops and superiors of the religious orders who have been in charge of judging them and, in some cases, of issuing compensation or of covering up what happened.
For the moment, the ecclesial leadership has refused, shielded by the pontifical secret, to make public the number of abuses it knows. The Executive has not proposed to prepare an independent report, as Ireland or Australia has already done, to investigate, with the collaboration or not of the Church, the possible cases silenced in the past, nor will it request the authorities data on the archives of the canonical courts.
The petition, a letter signed by the Justice Minister, Dolores Delgado, cites that the stories published in the press have generated "an important social alarm" and "a strong demand for this Government to address this phenomenon." Since last October, EL PAÍS investigates and tells the silence with which the Church has covered pedophilia in the past. In the last three decades, justice has only dictated thirty sentences condemning clerics for sexual assaults on minors. This diary has brought to light the ordeal of more than a score of victims, whose cases the Church hid, tried to silence or in those who acted contrary to current law or canon law.
Shortly after publishing this news, the Spanish Episcopal Conference decided to create a reserved commission antipederasty to update their protocols against abuses, which currently do not oblige bishops to report to the Office of the Prosecutor for Minors. At the moment, the ecclesial leadership refuses to review episodes of the past with an independent commission as has already been done in other countries. This February, Pope Francis has convened the Presidents of the Conferences around the world to address the problem of abuse.
The minister also recalled in the text that the Council of Ministers and approved in the first round on December 28 the preliminary draft of Organic Law of Integral Protection to Childhood and Adolescence. In the current law, the legal period for reporting expires 15 years after the abused person reaches the age of majority. With this preliminary draft, the victims will be able to denounce until they are 45 years old.
The National Association of Stolen Children (ANIR), the first national entity in which the victims of abuses of the Church are gathered, has called the government's initiative "insufficient". The group asks that the prescription period start counting from 50 years. In fact, they created a campaign on Change.org where they have already collected some 500,000 signatures. "What we are asking is that the Prosecutor's Office investigate all the cases without looking at whether they have prescribed. Because investigating old cases can come to light recent cases that have not prescribed, "said Tuesday the alleged victim and one of the spokespersons of the association, Miguel Hurtado.