Madrid, Nov 24 (EFE).- The Secretary General of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, César García, announced on Friday that the Spanish Church will compensate victims of sexual abuse by its members, even in cases where the abuser is deceased, the statute of limitations has expired or there is no court judgment, but after it determines that “there is a moral conviction that sexual abuse has occurred.”
However, when asked about the size of the compensations, García said that the Episcopal Conference (EEC) has not yet calculated a fund. He explained that when there is a court ruling, it will deremine the amouint to be paid.
He did, however, indicate who would be responsible for the payment: “It will be the perpetrators or, where appropriate, the institutions involved, dioceses or institutes of consecrated life, but “in principle” not the EEC.
The Church is thus distancing itself from the compensation fund proposed by Angel Gabilondo, the Spanish Human Rights Ombudsman, in his report on church paedophilia, as it warned at the time.
“What we are saying is that if a fund is created for all victims, we will participate, but if it is only for victims of the Church, we will manage it ourselves,” the Spanish bishop’s spokesman said.
This week the bishops unanimously approved the workplan, known as “íter” which is Latin for path or way, presented by the Coordination Service of the Offices for the Protection of Minors.
It has three lines of action: attention to the victims, prevention and integral reparation, which includes all perspectives, from the psychological to the spiritual and also the economic.
There is no deadline for the implementation of this plan, which will take place “as soon as possible”, said García.
The Spanish bishops also approved a message focused on the victims, to whom they ask forgiveness in an “explicit, clear and direct” way.
This announcement comes a few days before the meeting of all the bishops of the Episcopal Conference with Pope Francis in Rome, a meeting which aims to know the outcome of the visit to the seminaries.
More than 445,000 people suffered abuse in the religious sphere in Spain and almost 236,000 directly from priests, according to a report by the Ombudsman’s office, which recommends measures to compensate victims for the long neglect they have suffered.
The document, containing the testimony of 487 victims, was presented to the Spanish Congress in October by Socialist Angel Gabilondo, Ombudsman of Spain. EFE