Northern Navarre region publishes one of first official reports on Church abuse in Spain

Reuters [London, England]

February 11, 2022

By Reporting by Christina Thykjaer, editing by Inti Landauro and Raissa Kasolowsky

The northern Spanish region of Navarre published a report on Friday identifying 52 cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors in Catholic institutions over seven decades, in one of Spain’s first official investigations into Church abuses.

Allegations of widespread child abuse by Catholic clergy and of possible coverups by the Church are only surfacing now in Spain, years after similar scandals rocked the Church in other countries such as the United States, Ireland and France.

The report by the Navarre regional government and the Public University of Navarre found that more than 31 priests and members of the church, 21 of them school teachers, had allegedly abused minors in more than 17 schools and church institutions in the region since 1948.

Navarre’s Justice regional chief, Eduardo Santos, said on Friday that these cases represented “the tip of the iceberg”.

“This is not a problem of the Catholic Church but a problem inside the Church that the Christian community is living with horror and concern. This report is an attempt to find out the truth,” Santos said at a news conference.

At least seven more alleged victims came forward in Navarre after the report was finished, Santos said.

A report by newspaper El Pais into sexual abuse of children by the Church prompted an outcry in December and triggered a debate on how such cases should be investigated. read more

The head of the Spanish bishops’ conference has said it will set up internal commissions to clarify and investigate at diocesan level. read more

Some left-wing politicians have asked for a Congressional investigation, while the Spain’s ruling Socialist party suggested the national ombudsman should investigate. read more

“Everything contributing to ending this scourge in society is welcome,” a spokesperson for the Archbishop of Pamplona told Reuters in response to the report.

“The Catholic church has the infrastructure to welcome and help the victims of all abuses,” the spokesperson said.

The cases identified by the University of Navarre will be handed to local prosecutors, which will assess if they are not covered by a statute of limitation. In civil courts, the institutions could be sued for damage.

On Feb. 1, Reuters reported that Spain’s public prosecutor had given its regional offices 10 days to provide the results of ongoing judicial investigations into church sexual abuse cases. read more