El Pais Release Results of Investigation into Clergy Abuse by Jesuits in Spain

Yet another European country has released a report into cases of clergy abuse and yet again we are unsurprised by the revelations and expect more to come. Today, the Spanish newspaper El Pais released the results of their own investigation into the sexual abuse of children by Jesuits, reporting that at least 130 Jesuit priests molested at least 160 children. Our hearts break for the victims, both the counted and uncounted, and hope that this report encourages more survivors to break their silence and report their abuse.

The numbers released by El Pais are low, in our opinion, and we expect many more cases to be revealed over the coming years. Extrapolating from population data and estimating based on the 7000 accused priests in the United States, we would expect an honest and complete count of abusers to exceed 3,000. We know that the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy is a worldwide epidemic, as reports released by countries like France, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and others clearly demonstrate, and we have to assume that Spanish children were every bit as vulnerable and exploited as the children in each of those other countries.

We hope that decision makers in Madrid are looking into all avenues to support survivors throughout their country. We especially encourage Spanish government officials to quickly create a hotline – open 24/7 and staffed by trained and trauma-informed staff – so that other survivors who may be compelled to report their own abuse in the wake of this report will be able to disclose their abuse safely. The creation of such a hotline, alongside efforts to reach justice on behalf of victims, would surely spur many of those who are still silent into coming forward. This occurred following the 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, where the number of survivors doubled within a month of the report’s release, validating the importance and value of these hotlines.

Ultimately, this story adds yet another note in the chorus of global voices crying out for justice, support, and healing. We hope that survivors in Spain and elsewhere will be heard and that nations will collectively do more to address and end the global problem of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. Survivors, advocates and allies throughout the world should join forces with each other and with similar groups, such as the Brave Movement and Keep Kids Safe, in order to amplify survivor voices and compel change to better protect children in the future.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org

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