Catholic Clergy In Spain Accused Of Mass Sexual Abuse Of Children

Independent commission bases findings on a survey of the Spanish population 

Catholic Clergy In Spain Accused Of Mass Sexual Abuse Of Children

Over 200,000 children were allegedly abused by members of the Roman Catholic Church in Spain since 1940, a new probe by an independent commission said in a report published on Friday.

Details of the report were presented by Spain's "Defender del Pueblo" National Ombudsman Angel Gabilondo in a news conference at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid. This report was the result of the first-ever independent probe into the abuse of minors within the Catholic Church.

The report did not provide specific numbers and instead based its findings on a poll of some 8,000 people. It found that of the respondents, 0.6% of the country's adult population stated they had suffered sexual abuse by members of the clergy when they were minors.

The figure climbs to 1.13% - or over 400,000 - when including victims of non-clergy offenders.

Unfortunately, for many years, there has been a certain desire to deny abuses or a desire to conceal or protect the abusers," Gabilondo said at the news conference.

He termed the church's response to cases of child abuse involving members of the clergy as "insufficient".

Gabilondo's report suggested Spain's government set up a fund to pay reparations to victims.

Spain's parliament had set up the commission in March last year.

The country's catholic church has summoned an emergency meeting of its council of bishops to review the report. The church had for years refused to probe the matter but cooperated with Gabilondo's commission. However, the church has also commissioned an independent "audit" on the matter, the results of which are expected later this year.

In giving to mounting public pressure in the aftermath of disclosures at the Vatican, a voluntary complaints system it launched in 2020 collected details on some 927 cases.