SPAIN: Spain’s Catholic Church announced on Tuesday that a legal firm would coordinate and audit an inquiry into suspected sexual abuse of minors. A victims’ organization has described the move as a “smokescreen”
The charges have only recently gained traction in Spain, years after comparable scandals shook the Church in the United States, Ireland, and France.
Last Thursday, Spanish authorities stated they were looking into 68 incidents, although El Pais reported two months ago that it had discovered 1,200 cases registered between 1943 and 2018.
“The atrocities that have occurred at the institution have greatly upset us.
“The Bishops’ Conference wishes to take a step forward in its mission to deliver openness, assistance, and reparation to victims, as well as collaboration with authorities,” Cardinal Juan Jose Omella, the head of the Spanish Church, stated.
Over the next 12 months, eighteen members of the Cremades&Calvo-Sotelo legal firm will conduct and audit the investigation for free, complementing the work of diocese-level commissions and other investigations now or planned by Spanish authorities.
Javier Cremades, the organization’s CEO, who revealed he is a member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei, said the Church needed to adequately investigate the alleged crimes and that his firm was helping both victims and society.
“I’m here as a lawyer, not a faithful,” he said, offering to use the best of investigations from other nations, including France and Germany.
However, Fernando Garcia-Salmones, a spokesman for the Stolen Childhood victim’s organization, expressed alarm about the close ties between the Catholic Church and the law company, calling the move “another smokescreen” to keep abuse allegations hidden.
On Monday, he told reporters, “They want their faithful to protect them.”
“Had the Church truly intended to conduct a comprehensive investigation, it would have done it by now.”