Catholic Prelates in Spain Report 220 Allegations, SNAP Calls for Secular Investigation
Catholic Church officials in Spain have publicly admitted to 220 cases of abuse over the past two decades. We believe that these cherry-picked numbers barely scratch the surface of abuse in Spain. We are confident that, if the Spanish federal government would mandate a no holds barred investigation into abuse – similar to inquiries that have taken place in Australia or New Zealand – the numbers provided by the Spanish Church would be shown to be only the tip of the iceberg.
The abuse rate in countries that have undertaken secular investigations ranges from 8% to 10% and each abuser averages between 10 and 20 victims. That means that, of the 31,000 clerics that the Spanish bishops say worked in their country since 2001, it is more likely that about 3,100 clerics have abused somewhere between 31,000 and 62,000 children. As shocking as those numbers seem, we have more trust in the data than in the bishops.
Of the numbers disclosed, Spanish bishops were quick to note that 76 of these allegations stemmed from regular priests and an additional 144 were from ‘unnamed’ religious orders. Most importantly, we are appalled that the prelates omitted the number of allegations received versus the number they chose to report. The submitted number also failed to include laypersons working for Catholic schools or nuns.
Since 2001, the US Catholic church has admitted to 2750 abusers and 12,000 victims. The Spanish claim of 220 abusers and 350 victims in that same period is not only laughable, but an insult to the thousands of victims the Church is refusing to acknowledge or help.
In other European countries, Catholic leaders' investigations have uncovered thousands of abuse cases, which encouraged other victims to come forward. This admission from Spanish Church leadership is only one small step towards accountability or responsibility. We have learned that cleaning up the wreckage of the past is the best way to allow victims to begin healing and for the truth to be exposed. We believe that Spain’s secular government should order the Catholic Church in Spain to open its books for a true investigation. The only way to protect children is to change the system of secrecy that pervades the worldwide Catholic institution.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network) has provided support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)