Spanish Catholic church orders inquiry into child abuse cases

Madrid, Feb 22 (EFE).- Spanish Roman Catholic officials on Tuesday appointed a law firm to conduct a broad inquiry into child sex abuse cases commited by members of the clergy and workers in other church-linked institutions such as religious schools.

The Madrid-based Cremades & Calvo Sotelo firm will conduct the independent audit parallel to and in collaboration with investigations already being carried out by the state, according to an announcement by the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE).

CEE president and archbishop of Barcelona Juan José Omella said bishops had taken a step toward their obligation to “social transparency, to help and offer reparations to victims and cooperate with authorities in the cases of child sex abuse that affect the Spanish church.”

Child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church grabbed headlines in Spain once again in recent weeks after writer Alejandro Palomas went public with allegations that he was raped by a priest during his time at the Catholic La Salle school. Other former students later came forward with similar accusations.

Spanish prosecutors are currently pursuing 68 cases of alleged child sexual abuse in congregations, schools and other religious institutions.

Vatican officials in 2021 informed the CEE that 220 Spanish clergymen had been accused of pedophilia since 2001, of which 151 cases have been resolved and 69 remain open.

Spain’s Socialist Party, which leads the national government coalition, has announced it would propose that the Spanish Ombudsman office investigates child sex abuse crimes in the Catholic Church and its institutions.

Javier Cremades, head of the Cremades & Calvo Sotelo law firm, acknowledged that the investigation would be delicate and difficult.

“It’s the most complicated issue we’ve faced to date,” he told the press Tuesday.

“We are starting from scratch, today is day one of this stage the Church has decided to begin, with no time or material limits.”

The law firm will follow recent examples in France, the Republic of Ireland, Australia and especially Germany, where the diocese of Munich asked the lawyers office Westpfahl Spilker Wastlto conduct a similar probe. Two of the German experts will travel to Madrid monthly to help the Spanish investigation. EFE


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