By Donato Paolo Mancini
January 28, 2015
A judge in the southern Spanish city of Granada has charged ten Roman Catholic priests and two laypeople with alleged sexual offences involving four underage boys, in a case which has drawn the personal intervention of Pope Francis.
Antonio Moreno Marín, investigating magistrate at the Fourth Court of Granada, released a five-page statement alleging that, from 2004 to 2007, an altar boy suffered unwanted sexual acts at the hands of a priest named as Roman M. V. C, the purported ringleader, in which the other accused also participated. The Spanish daily El Pais named the alleged leader as Román Martínez, one of four people who were arrested in November and released on bail.
The investigation began after the now 24-year old wrote a letter to Pope Francis detailing the alleged abuse, prompting the pontiff to personally phone him and order action by the Archdiocese of Granada. The group of twelve, labeled “the Clan of the Romanones” by the Spanish press, have also been charged with offences against a second boy, while two other victims have provided witness testimony. All of them were underage at the time of the alleged crimes, which were said to have taken place at two houses used by the priests.
After the Pope’s phone call to the former alter boy, the Archbishop of Granada, Francisco Javier Martinez, prostrated himself along with other priests in front of the altar of the city’s cathedral to ask forgiveness for sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. All of the accused priests have been removed from their duties.
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