The Spanish Church will take a step towards transparency against pedophilia | Society
The Spanish Church silenced for decades the cases of pedophilia that it knew; there were occasions in which he covered up the abuser by transferring him from the parish and others in which he did not even investigate the complaints received, According to the investigation initiated by EL PAÍS four months ago. That situation is going to change. From now on, the ecclesiastical authorities will commit themselves so that the denunciations of abuses to minors that they receive will be communicated to the Office of the Prosecutor whenever the parents of the victims or their legal representatives do not act.
This is the conclusion you have reached the commission created several months ago to study an update of its protocols: apply transparency against pedophilia, as explained to EL PAÍS ecclesiastical leaders aware of these works.
The Episcopal Conference wants the new protocol to come into force after the conclusion of the summit that Pope Francis has summoned in Rome to address the problem. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith distributed some guidelines in 2011 where it explained that the legislation of the State in which each episcopal conference was to be taken into account, "in particular as regards the eventual obligation to give notice to the civil authorities. "
A year before, the Spanish Episcopal Conference had drafted a protocol, as a recommendation for the 70 dioceses, in which only established that the bishop should "invite or advise the relatives of the victim to present themselves the complaint before the police, the public prosecutor's office or the investigating court, as required by the Law in this type of crime. "
With this guideline of the Episcopal Conference, in Spain, cases continued to be recorded in which the Church secretly instructed the complaints received without transferring them to the Prosecutor's Office.
Before the meeting that begins this Thursday in Rome, the Spanish Episcopal Conference has answered the questionnaire that the Vatican sent asking him about the protocols against the abuses that exist in Spain. The ecclesial leadership brought together the different protocols applied by the 70 dioceses and some of those in force in different Religious Congregations. Many of these protocols do not now contemplate communication to the Office of the Prosecutor. Others, like that of the Diocese of Astorga, oblige the bishop to transfer the facts to the civil authorities.
The commission antipederastia of the Spanish Church sent several months ago to one of its representatives to the United States, the first country where the scandal erupted of mass abuses hidden by the ecclesiastical authorities, to visit several dioceses and learn about the measures they had taken against pedophilia .
Unlike other countries that have done extensive research on child abuse in the Church, Spain ignores how many cases have been recorded in recent years, since only those who have gone through civil justice are known. The Judicial Documentation Center has just registered 34 convictions in the last 30 years for abuses of minors in the Spanish church.
These figures, together with the few data that the Church has provided and the new victims who have now denounced the abuses total 81 cases with 243 victims, according to the count made by this newspaper.
The Spanish Church is divided into 14 ecclesiastical provinces with 70 dioceses in which 23,019 parishes coexist with 16,164 priests. In addition, there are more than 53,000 religious and hundreds of congregations.
Look for another side
In the only canonical sentence known so far, published by EL PAÍS, the Bishopric of Mallorca admitted in March 2013 that in relation to abuses of minors in the Church, "one often looked the other way, disguising the facts that appeared". The same canonical sentence, which condemned a priest to the expulsion from the clerical state for having abused a minor, indicated that "over time these people have been left behind to cover up the position they had before the society adorned with an honesty beyond doubt. "
The spanish government requested the Episcopal Conference a few days ago information about the causes opened by pedophilia in their ecclesiastical courts. Asked by this newspaper about this request of the Government, the Episcopal Conference answered: "We are always available to collaborate with the competent judicial bodies in this matter and in all those that arise." On the other hand, the Episcopal Conference does not have jurisdictional competence since it resides in the ordinary [obispos y superiores de las congregaciones religiosas] and in the Holy See. "
With this response, the Episcopal Conference suggests that it will not provide the Government with the requested information because it does not have it and because its collaboration is limited to judicial bodies. And it indicates, in addition, that if the Executive wants to obtain that information it must go to the dioceses, to the congregations and religious orders and to the Vatican.
Blázquez tells the Pope that he has met with victims
The president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez, explained in the questionnaire sent by the Vatican that he had met with several victims of abuses who had requested it and that some bishops had informed him that they had done the same in their dioceses , according to sources explained by the Spanish Episcopal Conference.
A month before the meeting, the Pope had asked the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences around the world to meet with those affected by abuses they knew. Most of the people who have recounted the aggressions suffered by clerics assure that nobody from the ecclesial leadership has contacted so far with them.
The bishopric of Astorga has taken the initiative and created an episcopal delegation to support the victims. The team consists of a psychologist, specialists in canon law and civil law, priests and a victim who suffered abuse.