An independent investigation has uncovered a startling revelation: an estimated 200,000 children have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Spain’s Catholic clergy. Initiated by Spain’s ombudsman, the investigation delved with an unwavering focus into a deeply unsettling narrative that highlighted both the silence and cover-up attempts employed by the Church.
Angel Gabilondo, the Spanish Ombudsman, underscored the silence of the Church as a breeding ground for the ongoing violation. “The silence encapsulated the horrors of the abuse,” he stated. The spotlight was shone on the Church for its little to no action against the alarming instances of child abuse, demonstrating a worrying paradigm.
The investigation, commissioned by Spain’s Congress in the previous year, presented a 700-page report underlying the daunting results drawn from an intensive survey of 800,000 public members. The figures were staggering: 0.6% of Spain’s adult population, amounting to approximately 39 million people, recounted their horrific episodes of childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by clerical members.
The number surged to more than 400,000 people, garnering a total percentage of 1.13%, when claims of abuse by lay individuals within Church-controlled institutions were counted.
Gabilondo, however, advised a careful interpretation of the acquired numbers. The report had been painstakingly structured, compiling honest accounts of over 487 abuse victims and revealing the substantial emotional distress incurred upon them. Referring to the damaging effects, Gabilondo stated, “A multitude of lives have been shredded into pieces, with certain individuals resorting to suicide.”
The Ombudsman called for a necessary intervention to alleviate the ongoing trauma and proposed a state-run fund to financially compensate the victims. Following the trail blazed by El Pais newspaper’s 2018 investigation, the inquiry offers a long-awaited voice to the silenced abuse victims. It represents a critical milestone in Spain’s democracy, acknowledging and addressing a grim reality that was collectively known yet never discussed openly, according to Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez.
In spite of the Church’s partial cooperation, Gabilondo made the point of its insufficient interest and the apparent antagonism from bishops in specific dioceses. However, amidst the brewing storm, Spain is honoured by the unveiled truth, paving the way for justice and insightful dialogue.