Spain Catholic Church says receives law firm’s sex abuse audit

Spain Catholic Church says receives law firm’s sex abuse audit
Spain Catholic Church says receives law firm’s sex abuse audit

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - In recent decades, thousands have spoken out about harrowing abuses by clergy across Europe, the United States, Australia and beyond, prompting several Church inquiries seeking redress for the victims. — AFP pic

MADRID, Dec 17 —Spain’s Catholic Church confirmed today that it had received an audit into child sex abuse by members of the clergy that it commissioned nearly two years ago from a private law firm.

A spokeswoman for the CEE Episcopal Conference, which groups Spain’s leading bishops, told AFP the report was received on Saturday, without giving any further details.

“The Episcopal Conference has received the report of the law firm Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo. This report is being studied for its integration into the work of the Conference and will be published in its entirety in the near future,” a brief CEE statement said.

The Church had in February 2022 commissioned Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo with looking into child abuse by both clergy and lay figures, with the firm saying it would probably take a year, though its report was later delayed.

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On October 27, the conclusions of Spain’s first-ever official investigation into such abuses were published, with the expert panel estimating that more than 200,000 minors had been abused by clergy since 1940.

Adding in abuses by lay people, that figure rose to more than 400,000, or around 1.13 percent of Spain’s 40 million population, said panel chair and ombudsman Angel Gabilondo when presenting the 700-page report.

At the time, CEE head Cardinal Juan Jose Omella said the Church was aware of 1,125 cases of sexual abuse, and later cast doubt on the “dubious reliability” of the figures.

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Historically, Spain has been a deeply Catholic country where around 55 percent of the population identifies as Roman Catholic, and where 1.5 million children study in some 2,500 Catholic schools.

In recent decades, thousands have spoken out about harrowing abuses by clergy across Europe, the United States, Australia and beyond, prompting several Church inquiries seeking redress for the victims.

But until last year, there had never been such an investigation in Spain, where no official statistics existed on child sex abuse by the clergy.

The ombudsman’s probe was backed by MPs in March 2022, a month after the Church took its first step towards addressing clerical abuse by engaging the law firm, with Omella saying it was to “take responsibility... to clarify past events and ensure they don’t happen again”.

But the move was dismissed as a “smokescreen” by victims’ associations that have long accused the Church of stonewalling and denial over such abuses. — AFP

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