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Spanish legislature may create commission to investigate sex abuse in Church

February 4, 2022 Catholic News Agency 1
The Palacio de las Cortes in Madrid, where Spain’s Congress of Deputies meets. / Luis García via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Madrid, Spain, Feb 4, 2022 / 10:39 am (CNA).

Spain’s lower house, the Congress of Deputies, agreed Feb. 1 to debate the creation of a commission to investigate sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic Church.

The request to create the commission was filed by Podemos, a left-wing party that is part of the governing coalition, as well as the Republican Left of Catalonia and EH Bildu, Catalan and Basque nationist parties that give confidence and supply to the government.

The People’s Party and Vox, which are in the opposition, voted against the commission and made a motion that all cases of the abuse of minors be investigated and not just those that have taken place in areas related to religious institutions.

However, this motion was vetoed by Podemos and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, the largest group in the ruling coalition.

In the coming weeks, the Congress will vote on whether to create the investigative commission.

Bishop Luis Javier Argüello Garcia, Auxiliary Bishop of Valladolid and spokesman and general secretary of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, said in a Feb. 2 interview with Ràdio Estel, the radio station of the Archdiocese of Barcelona, that if this investigative commission on sexual abuse in the Church is created, “political issues and the need for support (from other parties) will be more influential than the real interest of the victims of all abuses.”

“Experience tells us that these commissions are more of a platform for clashes between political parties than a search for the truth,” he said.

Bishop Argüello told Ràdio Estel that the parties promoting the investigation “are issuing a blanket judgement, saying that the Church isn’t a safe space,” and that “if there were real concern about all the abuse of minors, the commission would be different; it’s a problem for all of Spanish society that not only affects members of the Church.”

The Attorney General’s Office of Spain ordered Jan. 31 the head prosecutors of the country’s 17 regional autonomous governments to remit all open criminal proceedings for sexual abuse committed by members of the Church in Spain.

This procedure initiated by Spain’s Attorney General requires the head prosecutors to send, within 10 days, the complaints or charges in process that affect congregations, Catholic schools, dioceses, and any religious institution, not only Catholic, that have been initiated.

The Attorney General’s Office also stated that this requirement “doesn’t exhaust measures that the Government is studying to determine the facts and to prevent these incidents from being repeated.”

Sources in the Spanish Bishops’ Conference told Europa Press that “all the investigations carried out by the Judiciary “on the abuses committed against minors in the Church and in society are “well received, to the extent that they contribute to ending this social scourge.”

According to a report by the independent foundation Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk , cases of sexual abuse committed by people related to the Church represent 0.2% of the total.

Cardinal Juan José Omella Omella of Barcelona, president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, said during a press conference following his ad limina visit last month, that “in face of the issue of abuse, we all feel the great pain over that fact, in the midst of the society, and the desire at all times for our closeness (to the victims). All of us bishops have established commissions in each diocese to receive the complaints, to accompany those people who feel wounded and prevent these things from happening in the future, we have to use all means. We are clear on this and we have discussed this with the (Congregation of the) Doctrine of the Faith and with the pope.”

Since the publication of Pope Francis’ motu proprio Vos estis Lux mundi in 2019, each diocese as well as religious institutions have offices to serve the victims in order to facilitate reporting and confirm the application of the action protocols.

The motu proprio norms also establish obligatory reporting for clerics and religious, require that every diocese has a mechanism for reporting abuse, and put the metropolitan archbishop in charge of investigations of accusations against suffragan bishops.

The request to create a commission to investigate cases of sexual abuse by members of the Church took place after the newspaper El País delivered a report in December to Pope Francis and the Spanish Bishops’ Conference with possible abuse cases committed by 251 priests or laity from religious institutions.

The bishops’ conference noted that “it would be desirable for the accusations contained in the aforementioned report to be more rigorous, since its content, of a very disparate nature, makes it difficult to draw conclusions that could be used for a possible investigation.”


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Spain to permit feminist marches, while restricting worship services

February 26, 2021 CNA Daily News 1

Madrid, Spain, Feb 26, 2021 / 03:11 pm (CNA).- While maintaining restrictions on transit, gatherings, and worship services amid the coronavirus pandemic, Spanish authorities will allow marches for International Women’s Day next month.

Various feminist organizations are already calling for demonstrations in various parts of Spain March 8. In Madrid, marches of up to 500 persons have been authorized.

The Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, advises against the marches, saying, “there’s no place” for them because “the epidemiological situation would not allow nor make sense to hold these events.”

However, Fernando Simón, director of the Health Emergencies and Alerts Coordination Center of the Spanish government, has been in favor of the feminist events and said that they’re less risky than Holy Week processions.

Simón said,”it’s not the same to be under a litter carried by many people during Holy Week, than to be in a demonstration of 500 where distances can be maintained.”

The delegate of the Spanish government in Madrid, José Manuel Franco, told Onda Madrid public radio that the requests for a permit to hold marches they have received in the Spanish capital “have not been prohibited because they maintain the parameters required right now in this pandemic situation.”

In various autonomous regional governments in Spain, restrictions have already been announced for Holy Week celebrations and other celebrations associated with the Church, such as the “Sanfermines” in Navarre, which will not be held this year.

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, Luis Losada, campaign director for CitizenGO in Latin America, said that “it’s outrageous that (while we have had to) give up the Fallas of Valencia and San Fermin festivals, as well as Holy Week, the feminists insist on their own celebration.”

Fr. Juan Manuel Góngora, a Spaniard, said, “these days we are watching with astonishment how in the middle of the pandemic, the Government Delegation in Madrid is going to authorize the 8M demonstrations with ridiculous measures.”

“Allowing these demonstrations is a farce for all of us citizens who are complying with the imposed measures and it constitutes a shameful double standard,” Góngora noted.
“At the same time we are already hearing 24/7 that this year we must act as if ‘Holy Week does not exist,'” he added.

The priest said that “if on Easter Sunday I go out through the door of the church that I administer holding the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament while the parishioners accompany me duly separated, what authority does (the government) have to impose a fine on me?”

“We Catholics must stop being timid before sectarian rulers, we should act with courage and claim our right to express publicly our faith while respecting sanitary measures, those that truly respond to the requirements of healthcare but which others are using under that guise to restrict freedom,” Góngora said.

Fr. Francisco José Delgado, another Spaniard, charged that “all this time we have been enduring a real ‘demonization’ of Catholic worship, despite the fact that there is no known source of infection associated with worship activities in Spain.”

“At the same time, we see how the public events of the state religion, since the March 8 marches are nothing else, are shamelessly promoted by Podemos in the government,” he said.

Delgado said, that “the Ministry of Health advises against these marches, shows this is more about the political confrontation between the political parties in the government than from a real concern for the health of the people, which has been missing in the decisions that have been made since the pandemic started.”

“In our case, as a Church it is difficult to distinguish what part of our self-imposed restrictions belongs to prudence and what part corresponds to posturing before the world. We have to obey, and in most places we won’t have processions, obeying the bishops,” he said.

“But perhaps the task of spiritual reconstruction should be planned that must come after all this, because the world’s ideological agenda is not going to back off a millimeter, while we seem to be in retreat,” Delgado lamented.

Spain has had more than 3 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, and more than 68,000 deaths. Per 100,000 people, it has had 6,802 cases, and 147 deaths.