Catholic Church in Spain faces major abuse probe – report

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(1st UPDATE) The investigation will focus on the allegations of abuse against 251 priests and some lay people of religious institutions that the newspaper El Pais uncovered

MADRID, Spain — The Spanish Catholic Church will open an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of hundreds of children by clergy dating back 80 years, revealed by the newspaper El Pais, the daily announced on Sunday December 19 .

The investigation will focus on allegations of abuse against 251 priests and some lay people in religious institutions that the newspaper uncovered, El Pais said.

The newspaper did not publish the full findings of a three-year investigation it conducted into the matter, but said its correspondent handed a 385-page dossier to Pope Francis on Dec. papal entourage and journalists flew from Rome to Cyprus.

The number of victims is at least 1,237 but could reach thousands, according to the newspaper. The allegations relate to 31 religious orders and 31 of the approximately 70 dioceses in the country. The oldest case dates back to 1942 and the most recent to 2018.

The investigation will be carried out by the Spanish Episcopal Conference, led by Cardinal Juan José Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona, ​​according to El Pais.

Bishops’ conference officials were unavailable for comment on Sunday.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement that the pope had received the documentation and forwarded it to “competent bodies so that it can proceed in accordance with current Church law.”

It was an apparent reference to the Spanish Episcopal Conference and the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which investigates sexual abuse.

Under current Church law, Spanish bishops should notify civil authorities of suspected cases of abuse.

In November, Pope Francis, who met with dozens of abuse victims, thanked journalists for helping uncover clerical sex abuse scandals. – Rappler.com

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