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Spain Church audit into sex abuse to be ready next month

Spain's Catholic Church said Friday it will receive an audit it ordered into child sexual abuse by members of the clergy on December 15.

Spain’s Catholic Church said Friday it will receive an audit it ordered into child sexual abuse by members of the clergy on December 15, after an independent commission estimated over 200,000 victims.

The Church in February 2022 tasked private law firm Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo with an audit into past and present sexual abuse by clergy, teachers and others.

The move was labelled as a “smokescreen” by a victim’s association which have long accused it of stonewalling and denial.

Unlike in other nations like France, Ireland and the United States, in Spain — a traditionally Catholic country that has become highly secular — clerical abuse allegations are only now gaining traction.

The audit was originally expected to be delivered within a year but was delayed.

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The law firm will now deliver the report on December 15, the secretary general of the Spanish Bishops Conference, Francisco Garcia Magan, told a news conference, but he did not say when it would be made public.

Last month Spain’s first independent probe into the issue estimated that over 200,000 minors had been sexually abused in the country of around 39 million people by Roman Catholic clergy since 1940.

The report did not give a specific figure, but said a poll of over 8,000 people found some 0.6 percent of Spain’s adult population said they had suffered sexual abuse by members of the clergy when they were still children.

The percentage rises to 1.13 percent — or over 400,000 people — when including abuse by lay members, according to the results of the probe which was led by Spain’s national ombudsman.

In a message posted to social media after the report’s publication, Cardinal Juan Jose Omella, president of the Episcopal Conference, said the Church was aware of 1,125 cases of sexual abuse.

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Omella on Monday rejected “the dubious reliability of the results” of the independent probe and called for “an exhaustive and impartial examination of the data” that was used for what he called “malicious purposes”.

The independent commission recommended the creation of a state compensation fund for victims, an idea supported by Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

But Spain’s Catholic Church has ruled out taking part in such a fund if it is set up exclusively to compensate victims clerical abuse, and not all minors who are victims of sexual abuse in any setting.

To do so would be “discrimination”, said Omella.

The Spanish Bishops Conference said Friday it would draw up a “comprehensive reparation plan for the victims” that will apply even if the statute of limitations for the abuse has expired or the perpetrator has died. It gave no further details.

– By: © Agence France-Presse

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