7 Sep, 2023 @ 13:28
1 min read

Chief prosecutor in Spain calls for in-depth investigation into paedophile priests, after newspaper uncovers abuses and cover-ups

priest church Saint John S Seminary Unsplash
priest church Saint John S Seminary Unsplash

SPAIN’S Prosecutor General’s Office has called for an in-depth investigation into child sex abuse cases committed by members of the Catholic Church, as well as the possible activities of other figures within the institution who covered up such crimes. 

The public ministry is doing so after a far-reaching investigation into these cases by Spanish daily El Pais, which has compiled information covering 1,021 accused abusers within the church, as well as 2,190 victims. Its investigation reached the hands of Pope Francis.

The Prosecutor General’s Office, which is a ministry within the Spanish government, has for the first time included a section on its actions regarding alleged abuses within the Church. In this section, it includes recommendations for how to proceed in terms of probes. 

The ministry also points to the scant information that is available about the allegations, as well as the need for the victims to enjoy protections via Spain’s legal system. 

El Pais has discovered at least 75 cases where bishops or their superiors have covered up, silenced or concealed cases of abuse. But according to the newspaper, no Spanish bishop has ever been brought up in court accused of such actions, which constitute a criminal offence. 

priest church Saint John S Seminary Unsplash
The Prosecutor General wants a probe into alleged cover-ups as well as abuses in the Church.

The Prosecutor General’s Office began its investigations into abuse cases in the Church back in January 2022, after El Pais handed over a dossier with its findings to Cardenal Juan Jose Omella, the president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference – the ??institution composed of all the bishops of the dioceses of Spain and Andorra.

In response, the Prosecutor General instructed prosecutors across the country to collate and communicate all the open cases of abuses within the church they were pursuing. The result was 68 open cases, although it was not clear which related to the Catholic Church and which related to other denominations. 

In the wake of the claims, the Spanish Episcopal Conference – the ??institution composed of all the bishops of the dioceses of Spain and Andorra – commissioned an audit into the alleged abuses in the Church. This report is expected to be delivered in several weeks, according to El Pais

What’s more, the ombudsman is also carrying out an investigation into these cases after being commissioned to do so by lawmakers in Spain’s lower house of parliament, the Congress of Deputies.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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