Independent audit on sexual abuse in Spanish Roman Catholic Church


Southern Europe


Juan José Omella. Photo AFP, Alberto Pizzoli

The Spanish Catholic Church has commissioned an independent investigation on sexual abuse by clergy in the past. This is remarkable because the Church earlier said that it would not establish a national commission.

Cardinal Juan José Omella, president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, announced recently during one of the meetings of the Conference that the Church has hired a law firm to fulfil the task.

Atleteia reports that the investigation should take about a year. The law firm, bearing the name Cremades&Calvo Sotelo Law Firm, requested the collaboration of the victims, the media and everyone who can provide information on what happened in the past.

According to Cremades, the Roman Catholic Churches will collaborate with the investigation. “We will visit each religious congregation”, Javier Cremades, president of the firm, says to Atletia.

“Transparency, help, reparation, collaboration and maximum amplitude”, Juan José Omella from the Spanish Episcopal Conference added several times. According to him, Pope Francis has been informed about the commission. “Everything is for the good of the victims, of society and the Church.”

Furthermore, the investigation is done in collaboration with the government, Cremades of the law firm says. “This is not an alternative but complements the work of the government. No one can have doubts of manipulation.”

Cremades said that he has contacted the national ombudsman who would lead the government’s investigation. His investigation will also incorporate “the work done so far by the individual Spanish dioceses.”

Regional commissions

Earlier this year, Cardinal Omella said during a visit in Rome that the Bishop’s Conference had no plans for establishing a single independent commission for a federal investigation as other countries, like Germany and France, had done before. According to Union of Catholic Asian News, Omella then stated that each diocese would have its commission so that victims could report easier.

However, public support for a government-led investigation grew. On February 1, the Spanish parliament took the first step to establish a commission to investigate sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Victims sceptical about the investigation

Despite the Roman Catholic Church’s steps, the official investigation must continue, Miguel Ángel Hurtado, one of the victims, says to El Pais. Earlier, he gathered 70.000 signatures, demanding that pederasty be investigated. “The Church should not have the privilege of investigating itself or choosing the model with which it is done”, he added.

Fernando García Salmones, a member of the Stolen Childhood Association and a victim of pederasty in the Church, expects that the announcement of the Spanish Episcopal Conference means that the Church will not collaborate with the government investigation. “That way, they can say that they already have created an independent commission”, he said to El Pais. “But I think it’s a chess move so that other commissions do not go ahead”, he stated. Salmones said to El Pais that he thinks it is “outrageous” to entrust the task of investigation to a law firm.

“It is time to put people who experienced abuse at the head of the audit, which meets the parameters of independence and transparency and the clear voices of the victims”, Stolen Childhood wrote in a statement.

In the days before the Spanish Episcopal Conference announced the investigation, several Spanish ecclesiastical representatives spoke out in favour of an inquiry of pederasty in the institution. Also, the vice president of the Conference already spoke out his support: “That there are no complaints does not mean that there are no cases. Cases of the past are cases of the present.”



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