Spanish bishops withholding information on sexual abuse: Attorney general

Anadolu Agency [Ankara, Turkey]

February 16, 2023

By Alyssa McMurtry

70 bishops were asked to collaborate, but only 29 have responded

OVIEDO, Spain – Spain’s attorney general said on Thursday that the country’s bishops are withholding information related to an ongoing investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Alvaro Garcia Ortiz said that “in light of the very little information received,” the Spanish justice system will send letters to the Catholic dioceses “in the coming days, ”imploring them to send data on abuses that the prosecutors are still missing.

In November, 70 dioceses, or religious districts under the control of a bishop, were asked to inform state prosecutors about any sexual abuses that they were aware of.

Garcaa Ortiz said only 29 have replied and that most of the replies contained minimal information.

Spain’s requests in November came after the Spanish Episcopal Conference refused to send the relevant information on sexual abuse cases, arguing that each diocese was in control of that information.

In September, Spain’s ombudsman said he had not “noticed a lot of enthusiasm” from parts of the Catholic Church around the investigation.

Under a 1979 agreement between Spain and the Catholic Church, the state must respect the “inviolability” of all church documents. In effect, it means that Spanish authorities cannot legally force the church to hand over archives.

Spanish authorities are currently conducting an independent inquiry into victims of sexual abuse at the hands of the church. The Spanish Episcopal Conference is conducting a parallel investigation through a private law firm.

On Monday, an independent committee in Portugal concluded that at least 4,815 children were sexually abused by Catholic clergy in Portugal since 1950. In France, a similar investigation estimated that some 216,000 children were abused by Catholic authorities.