Saturday, May 28

The Spanish bishops ‘pass’ the anti-abuse commission of the Ombudsman: “We are not going to be part”


The Spanish bishops will not be part of the Ombudsman’s commission to investigate abuses in the Church. And they will not, because “it is surprising that they only investigate the Church when the Prosecutor’s Office itself has said that out of 15,000 open cases in Spain, only 69 refer to the Church”, as argued by the spokesman for the Episcopal Conference, Luis Arguello.

“We are not going to be part of that investigation commission,” the general secretary of the CEE stated emphatically, who called the position taken by the Congress of Deputies an “unusual decision” after the Church itself refused, during months, to open any type of investigation, as other episcopates around him have done.

“There are two possibilities: indirectly we have been given the possibility that the Church, institutionally, be present in the Commission that the Ombudsman is preparing, and the other is collaboration,” added Argüello at the end of the Plenary Assembly of the CEE, before denying said formal collaboration.

The Church, “scapegoat”

“We are not part of the Cremades team either, although there has been a request from us,” he explained, before announcing that the Spanish bishops “unanimously” endorsed the assignment made to the law firm last February. “That we can then add together, address this issue that the Church is assuming as a scapegoat, so that an awareness arises in society that makes the problem of abuse, which the report of the Attorney General puts in its fair size, can be addressed in its entirety”, he insisted.

Despite not being on the agenda, the CEE dedicated “all Thursday afternoon” to address this issue, first with the appearance of members of the firm, and later, with a debate between the prelates. Little news in this regard, since no new data or courses of action were given. It was not even entered into whether the opening of the diocesan archives had been requested, as the Portuguese bishops have done, although at this point Argüello clarified that the consultation, if it occurs, “will be carried out taking into account civil legislation, canonical legislation and the data protection system.

“I think that what is thought to be found in the archives is overvalued,” said the spokesman for the Spanish bishops, although he wanted to make it clear that it was “a purely personal opinion.”

And it is that, pointing to the experience in Valladolid itself, it is pointed out that “in the cases of specific complaints, an attempt has been made to see if there was a reference in the archives in the history of the diocese.” And nothing has ever been found. Another thing is the situation of the so-called ‘secret archives’, those that only the bishop knows about because they are subject to a double precaution: that of the ecclesiastical archives, and the shield provided by the secrecy of confession.

And what happens to the victims who do not recognize the Cremades law firm? At this point, Argüello insisted on making “an appeal to the victims, or to anyone who has knowledge of any type of abuse, not to hesitate to go to the diocesan offices.” If these do not give you confidence, “let them go to the victims’ associations that exist.” He also mentioned the possibility of approaching the Cremades team, which also collects complaints, although its role is to carry out an audit, not an in-depth investigation. “And we will see what the Ombudsman’s commission can do,” settled the spokesman for the bishops.

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