Cardinal Juan José Omella, the archbishop of Barcelona, Spain, and Spain’s Ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo. / Credit: CEE

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 30, 2023 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

The president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE), Cardinal Juan José Omella, has handed over to the people’s ombudsman, Ángel Gabilondo, a total of six volumes of data on cases of sexual abuse of minors.

In Spain, the role of the ombudsman is to defend the fundamental rights and public liberties of citizens by watching over the activities of local and national governments as well as the administration of justice.

Speaking to Radio Nacional de España, Omella explained that all the data on cases collected by the Spanish dioceses has been turned in.

In total, the ombudsman has received “six volumes of reflection with all the data that we have up to now.” He stressed the Spanish prelates commitment to “put in place all means to eradicate” the abuse of minors.

The cardinal also said that these situations cause “great harm, not only to the Church but [also] to society.”

A year ago, the Congress of Deputies (the lower house of the national Legislature) entrusted the ombudsman with setting up an independent commission to report on complaints of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

A month earlier, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference made public that it had hired the law firm Cremades & Calvo Sotelo to conduct an external audit on the matter. The work was expected to take one year. Conclusions from the audit have have not yet been released.

In Spain there are more than 200 offices dedicated to the protection of minors and the prevention of abuse run by dioceses, religious congregations, and lay movements. The CEE reported that during 2022, the diocesan offices have trained more than 150,000 people, especially children and adolescents.

Throughout 2022, the CEE has received testimony on 186 new cases of abuse that occurred since 1950. The allegations involve include 74 religious order clergy, 36 diocesan clergy, 49 non-ordained consecrated persons, and 27 laymen, all male. Of them, 90 have died, 69 are alive, and in 27 cases their situation has not been confirmed, the CEE reported.

Regarding the victims, 179 were minors at the time the abuse occurred.

According to a very detailed study by the ANAR Foundation (Aid to At-Risk Chidren and Adolescents) published in 2021, priests represent a total of 0.2% of those responsible for child abuse in Spain between 2008 and 2019. Most of these situations occurred with adolescents aged 16 and over.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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