June 20, 2021

Two years after the Anti-Pederasty Summit, the Spanish Church continues to refuse to carry out a study on abuse


Two years after the Anti-Pedophilia Summit, in which Pope Francis decreed the opening of ecclesial archives and windows in light of the drama of child abuse in the Churches, the Spanish bishops admit that they do not know how many cases there have been “in the whole of Spain”. “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.” With those words, the spokesman for the Episcopal Conference, Luis Argüello, admitted it. The bishops continue to refuse to establish a global study, as other episcopates have produced – such as Germany, France, the United States, Ireland or Poland itself – that allows an overview of the drama of clerical pedophilia.

Argüello pointed out that the new complaints, referring to current cases, that have been received in the diocesan offices throughout this year have been “seven or eight”, and came to qualify some of them as “only murmurings.” At the insistence of journalists, the general secretary ended up noting that “150 people have come to the diocesan offices for various reasons”, without knowing which ones.

“We have not commissioned a general study”

“We have not commissioned a general study,” admitted Argüello just after announcing a coordination service to “continue advancing in the desire to prevent, attend to the victims of these abuses and offer all the service to be able to address these situations.” Questioned on several occasions, the auxiliary bishop of Valladolid ended up granting: “We are going to collect the data, help in that coordination aspect, and then together we will see what we can do.” A lack of rigor in data and planning far from what was demanded two years ago by Pope Francis.

The bishop has claimed that dioceses and religious congregations are “making an effort to see what our history is.” “It is our greatest mea culpa, having looked the other way”, which is reflected in the fact that “there is usually not much evidence left in the archives.” This makes, as Argüello himself had indicated on other occasions, makes an investigation into the past really difficult.

Although there are no data, the bishops did use some of them to attack a supposed “template in the media that comes to say that, if in other parts of Europe 4% of implicated priests have appeared in studies, in Spain too It has to be. And if 0.2% is recognized, we are hiding the rest. And it is not like that, “he declared, ignoring that the studies carried out in other countries were promoted by the Church of each place, opening the files to researchers independent, something that does not happen in Spain.

Twelve abusive priests in the last twelve years?

Citing a study by the ANAR Foundation, Argüello extrapolated figures that suggest that 0.2 percent of abusers in the last twelve years were priests. “Of all the supposed cases in these twelve years, there have been twelve people”, something that “seems especially serious to us, but we want it to be placed in the context” where it is reflected that most of the abuses occur in the family environment .

“Although the numbers are very small, we must recognize the seriousness of each number for each person, each victim,” said Argüello. “We can say with regret that we are facing a serious social situation, with shame that ecclesiastics and consecrated persons have participated in this drama, but also with courage that the number of people institutionally linked to the Church has been very small.”

No to the stable compensation fund

Argüello also refused to establish a stable compensation fund of the Spanish Church for the victims of pedophilia, but compensation will be faced in cases where justice dictates. Yes, he opted to accompany, “case by case”, people who have suffered, and demonstrated, abuse, and who need psychological help or support.

“We are willing to recognize the compensation that the judges establish, to accept the first compensation in personal conversations. To the extent that there is a need for therapy and support work. Not as a general criterion, nor as an open fund, but from the Personal and personalized relationship with the people who may be in these situations (…). The important thing is that there is a desire to attend to the victims in all possible dimensions. It is not necessary to establish a fund, to help the victims you have to go to the resources it has, without the need for specific funds, “concluded Argüello.

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