October 29, 2020

The tepid 'mea culpa' of those responsible for sexual abuse of minors in the Spanish Church | Blog Doc & Roll

The tepid 'mea culpa' of those responsible for sexual abuse of minors in the Spanish Church | Blog Doc & Roll


For Miguel Hurtado, all cases of child abuse in the Spanish Catholic Church, like the one he suffered in 1997, end the same. "The congregations never denounce the police", laments in the documentary series Soul searching, which opens Netflix this Friday, January 25. Last week, at 37 years old, he dared for the first time to publicly name his assailant: Andreu Soler, by that time monk of the monastery of Montserrat.

After meeting him in person and hearing his case, the director of the series Albert Solé decided that Hurtado traveled to Spain to talk with other men who suffered similar situations during his childhood and served as the thread of the three chapters commissioned by the giant of the streaming.

"Judging by how they have taken this type of case, from the monastery of Lluc in Mallorca to Romanones in A Coruña, it seems that the Church throughout Spain has read the same manual of conduct: first try to hide what happened, then convince the victim that street until the crime prescribes and, ultimately, transfer the pedophiles to other places, but never avoid or denounce, "says the director during the presentation of Soul searching.

Solé, winner of the Goya in 2008 for the documentary Bucharest, the lost memory, is responsible for making the uncomfortable questions responsible and covering up these aggressions. For example, why there are hardly any figures in Spain that denounce what happened for decades. "There is not a list of anything, except what you can know in the media," responds laconically at a time in the series José Gabriel Vera, spokesman for the Episcopal Conference.

Studies carried out in places as far apart as the United States and Australia coincide in the same statistics when it comes to coding cases of this type: 7% of active priests have committed serious sexual abuse of minors.

The data is the same 7% that the psychologist Pepe Rodríguez establishes within the Spanish Church in his book The sexual life of the clergy (1995), which currently translates into more than 1,200 aggressor priests throughout Spain.

"If even those figures seem plausible to the Episcopal Conference, I estimate that they can be much higher. Let's not forget that, in Spain, 35% of education is in the hands of the Church, "says Solé. The documentary is responsible for remembering "that this matter is not a thing of the past", and mentions cases that occurred in schools of Marists in 2011.

Give voice to the pedophile

In addition to showing several hidden camera conversations between pedophiles and their already adult victims, Solé decides to include an interview with Joaquín Benítez, one of the few who has faced justice by not having prescribed his crimes. Although he intones mea culpa, he can not disguise a certain lack of empathy with the children he harassed and argues, in defense, that he "asked for their permission" before touching them.

The tepid 'mea culpa' of those responsible for sexual abuse of minors in the Spanish Church

Joaquín Benítez, before the camera of Soul searching / Netflix

"Benítez seemed to me an interesting psychological profile and one that should be shown. So I decided it was worth giving him a voice. I think he agrees to do interviews because he sees in them a certain possibility of personal redemption. He knows he's going to jail. That's why he asks for forgiveness and tries to justify himself. Although it removes iron to what he has done when considering his experiences of his childhood much harder than the acts he has committed, at least he has the courage to admit it when the rest of the aggressors are not able to do so, "the director defends.

Solé is posed in Soul searching if in the immediate future of the clergy it becomes a solution and no longer a part of the problem. "There is a clear evolution of Pope Francis with regard to Ratzinger, but a person is unable to change a corrupt machine that has been working perfectly for millennia."

To do so, Solé considers that this structure of concealment must end. "It begins to be a basic need of Spanish society to look in the mirror and face what has happened for decades. What if steps like those given by Miguel can be the start of a new #MeToo? May the Lord hear us. "

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