Friday, September 30

The Bishopric of Bilbao investigates 14 priests for sexual abuse

The Bishop of Bilbao, Joseba Segura, has assured that the Diocese of Biscay collaborates “with total determination and conviction” in the investigation into sexual abuse in the Church launched by the Ombudsman. In addition, he explained that the Commission promoted in the Diocese of Bilbao collected, in an April report, “14 priests who, in one way or another, had been identified as possible perpetrators” by the victims themselves or by people who “have heard what could have happened”. In an interview granted to Radio Euskadi, collected by Europa Press, Segura has considered that it is “very important” that all dioceses collaborate with the investigation launched by the Ombudsman on abuses in the Church. Along these lines, he has stressed that the Diocese of Biscay “is going to do it and is doing it with total decision and conviction.”

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The Bishop of Bilbao is not aware that there is any Diocese that has decided “not to collaborate” and has affirmed that there are “many dioceses” that are collaborating, although the Church “does not function as a multinational, with a centralized power”, and the dioceses “they are autonomous”. According to him, he added, there is a “desire to collaborate” but there are also “doubts and concerns” because there are “victims with whom you have spoken who have told you about the experience they have had but do not want it to be made public”.

In any case, he has insisted that it is “important that public opinion have the feeling that we are not hiding anything” and, “always with the respect we owe to the people who ask us for confidentiality, we can fully collaborate” in the investigation.

In relation to the Commission launched by the Bishopric of Bilbao, by the previous bishop, Mario Iceta, he explained that a report was produced in April in which “there was talk of 14 priests who, in one way or another, had been identified as possible perpetrators, in some cases it has been the victims themselves who have given the information and in other cases they are people who have heard that it could have happened.”

Joseba Segura has pointed out that, in his experience of encounters with the victims, he has not found “any case in which, after hearing what they have said, he has doubts that something has actually happened or that what they are saying is not true. ”. As he has indicated, it is “very important” to give them the opportunity to “express their story” and to do “as far as possible” what is necessary so that “there really is no doubt, when there is a clear indication that it has indeed happened , that they have told the truth and that what we have to do is recognize the courage they had”.

The bishop has affirmed that this figure of 14 people seems “enough” to him and considers that “there are more”, but he does not believe that “the proportion that there are here of predatory priests, responsible for abuses, is as great as it has been in other churches ” as in the known cases in the United States or Ireland. In any case, he has admitted that there are cases that have occurred and that he will not know about because “the victims will not want to speak or because they have been lost in history at a certain moment.”

‘Gaztelueta Case’

He also alluded to the so-called ‘Gaztelueta case’ and, when asked if he considers that the letter sent by the Gaztelueta school to the family, in which Opus Dei does not apologize, falls short, he stressed that it is “a complicated issue ”.

For his part, he explained that he met with the victim’s parents and has “no doubt that the whole experience they lived through was terrible.” “I don’t think that can be invented, I think there is something true and something important that I think has also been recognized in the sentence, which confirms that the fact that there is a responsibility on the part of the teacher”, he pointed out. Personally, he has admitted, he “would have written another letter” but he has to have “respect” for the structure of the Church and in which “Opus Dei and other religious orders, although they certainly have a certain connection with the bishop, have a great autonomy. As he explained, “no one has asked him anything about the letter.”

Segura has indicated that, in a similar situation, he would have tried to make the condemned professor “recognize that something has happened” and that there be “a rapprochement with the family”, although he has specified that, “if he says no” , it cannot be “forced”.

In another order of things, he has reiterated that things must be “changed” to give women “the responsibility they have”, for example, at the level of parish life, although he has pointed out that his Diocese is part of “a Church global that has its processes and times and you have to be patient”. As she has indicated, “the value of unity is very important” and the Diocese of Bilbao “cannot allow itself to decide certain things that go against it.”

In any case, he pointed out that “everything that can be done is going to be done” and, in this sense, he explained that Bilbao works “on a regular basis” with “an expanded Episcopal Council” in which there is a presence of women in their meetings, with “total harmony and normality in the process”.

He has also reiterated the “difficult situation” that exists in the Church to replace the priests who are dying. “Yes, we are in a bit of a bind there”, admitted the Bishop of Bilbao, who highlighted that, in the last year, there has been “a progressive movement back to the Churches” after the reduction in attendance at the services registered for the pandemic.

Finally, in relation to the Decree on energy saving measures, he explained that the lighting of cathedrals “normally is linked to lighting projects for public buildings” and, in this sense, “they are coordinated with the administration and what happens in the administration It happens in cathedrals. “It is not that we decide when a light is turned on or off in a church,” she has pointed out.