F Rosa Rubicondior: Catholic Sex Abuse - Spain To Compensate Victims of Predatory Catholic Priests

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Catholic Sex Abuse - Spain To Compensate Victims of Predatory Catholic Priests

Cardinal Juan Jose Omella
President of the Spanish Conference of Bishops
Spain approves plan to compensate victims of Catholic Church sex abuse. Church will be asked to pay | AP News

After years of ignoring the issue and long after many other European countries had launched enquiries into the systematic sexual abuse of minors by Spain's Catholic clergy and its cover-up and facilitation by senior figures in the Catholic Church, in 2022, the Spanish government finally caved in and commissioned an enquiry by ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo.

The government was forced to act by public outrage following allegations in the newspaper, El País, that more than 1,200 people had been sexually abused by Catholic priests.

A Madrid-based law firm is conducting a parallel inquiry ordered by the Spanish Episcopal Conference, which for years rejected the idea of taking a comprehensive approach to investigating sex abuse.

That commission has now concluded that some 440,000 individuals were sexually abused by people linked to the church, half of whom were clergy. It has recommended that the victims be compensated, and that this compensation should be financed by the Catholic Church.

However, Spain’s Bishops Conference has rejected the plan on the disingenuous grounds that it doesn't compensate victims 'outside the church circle'. In other words, because it doesn't compensate people who were abused by people not connected with the church.

This is the same Bishop's Conference that resisted the idea of an enquiry and refused to launch its own, unlike Churches in many other countries. Now they have suddenly discovered a concern for all victims of sexual abuse, not just their own clergy's victims.

In France, an independent inquiry estimated in 2021 that some 330,000 children were victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy or other Catholic-affiliated lay employees from 1950-2020.

in February 2023, in Portugal, an expert panel found that more than 4,800 individuals may have been victims of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

Although in 2023, Ángel Gabilondo said that his commission was still hoping to receive full co-operation from the Catholic Church in Spain, Minister of the Presidency and Justice, Félix Bolaños, said the government hoped to carry out the plan over the next four years in collaboration with the church.

The project will include free legal assistance for all victims of sexual abuse and it will reinforce the prevention supervision in schools.

In Ireland, a similar enquiry into the role of the Catholic Church in child abuse and cover-ups led to a collapse in the moral authority of the Church and a significant decline in its involvement in public life that had been a feature of Irish politics since the foundation of the Republic.

The Catholic Church has been losing influence in Spain since it was revealed that, under Franco's fascist regime, priests and nuns had been trafficking babies born to single mothers, who were told their babies had died, reminiscent of the Mother and Baby Homes scandals in Ireland.

These scandals show what the Christian Church is capable of, when it acquires the unaccountable power in society, that it demands as a right, and show once again that those who believe absurdities will commit atrocities.

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