La Croix International [France]
May 4, 2022
By Juliette Paquier
Catholic bishops in Spain say they will not cooperate with parliamentary commission because its focus is only on sexual abuse in the Church and not in all sectors of society.
The Catholic bishops of Spain have refused to participate in the State-run, independent investigation into Church-related sexual abuse of minors.
“We want to emphasize that investigating abuse within the Church only, when it is clear that of the 15,000 cases opened in Spain, only 69 involve the Church, is a surprising decision,” said Bishop Luis Argüello, spokesman for the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE).
Bishop Argüello said the commission, which Spanish Parliament agree on in March, should carry out a broader investigation, instead.
He pointed to the one recently set up by Catalonia’s regional government, which is also investigate sex abuse committed in schools, sports centers and recreational organizations.
The Church refuses to be a “scapegoat”
Argüello, who is the auxiliary bishop of Valladolid, said society “as a whole” must become aware of “the magnitude of this problem” and avoid making Church into a “scapegoat”.
Nonetheless, he said that he and his fellow the bishops “will collaborate with the civil authorities” and open their diocesan archives, “taking into account civil and canonical legislation and the law on data protection”.
But the 69-year-old prelate said it’s his “personal” view that there is an “overestimation of what can be found in the archives”.
Spanish Parliament voted overwhelming in favor of setting up the independent commission, which was first proposed the ruling Socialist Party.
It came after the Madrid daily El Pais published an expose revealing that an estimated 1,246 children had been abused in the Spanish Church since the 1930s.
The revelations prompted the bishops, who have long been reticent on the issue, to commission their own independent audit at the end of February in order to shed light on Church-related abuse cases.
The Catholic Church in Spain has officially recognizes only 220 cases of pedocriminality over the past 20 years.