Spanish Catholic Priests Sexually Abused Over 200,000 Children

By Rosa Rubicondior | 27 October 2023
Rosa Rubicondior Blog

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

Spanish clergy sexually abused more than 200,000 children, inquiry estimates | Spain | The Guardian

The routine sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is back in the news after an independent commission, led by Spain’s national Ombudsman, former education minister, Ángel Gabilondo, has discovered that more than 200,000 minors have been sexually abused by Catholic priests since 1940.

This figure is an estimate based on extrapolating the figure of 0.8% of 8,000 Spanish adults in a survey who reported being sexually abused by Catholic priests before the age of 18 – a figure which rose to 1.13% (360,000 of Spain’s 32 million adult population) if lay members of the church were included. Lay members of the church perform some of the duties of priests but are not ordained or under holy orders. As such, they come under the authority and control of senior church figured, usually the bishops, archbishops and cardinals in charge of diocese.

For most of the period, the Spanish Catholic Church was a privileged and protected institution that considered itself largely above the law – a position that derived from its active support and cooperation with General Frano’s Fascist regime. During this period, the Catholic Church was given control of most of the influential and welfare aspects of Spanish life, including education, health and institutions such as orphanages, mother and baby homes and homes for single mothers, many of whom were themselves victims of sexual abuse.

During the Franco era, the Catholic Church in Spain, as it did in neighbouring Fascist Portugal, epitomized the fundamental law of religion, that all religions support freedom of conscience until they acquire the power to abolish it.

It was during this era that Catholic priests and nuns went in for the sale of stolen babies to childless Catholic couples, often telling the baby’s mother than that her baby had died and refusing her access to the body.

And it was during this time that the majority of child abuses occurred when children were too afraid to complain about a Catholic priest for fear of the repercussions from speaking out against a ‘Man of God’, who was also a powerful figure in local and maybe national politics and a friend of the brutal Falange, through whom the Fascist dictator, Franco, suppressed any hint of dissent or anything but unswerving loyalty to his regime and the Catholic Church on whom he relied.

It is only now that the Catholic Church has lost much of its political power and child abuse scandals have rocked the Catholic Church in most countries where the Catholic Church has a significant presence, that Spanish victims are finding the courage to speak out.

As Ángel Gabilondo said when presenting his report:

Unfortunately, for many years there has been a certain desire to deny abuses or a desire to conceal or protect the abusers.

~ Ángel Gabilondo, Spain’s national ombudsman

The Spanish Catholic Church, which had for many years refused to carry out its own investigation into the growing number of complaints, reluctantly agreed to cooperate with the enquiry and handed over documents collected by diocese and admitted last June that it had found evidence of 927 cases of child abuse through a complaints procedure launched in 2020 – a figure which is believed to massively underestimate the real scale of the problem, as the top-selling daily newspaper El País has uncovered 2,206 victims and 1,036 alleged abusers dating back to 1927, with an investigation that begun in 2018.

The report also found that, in the tried and tested way of covering up abuse while allowing abusers to continue abusing, accused priests were routinely moved to other parishes or sent abroad, but no action was taken to restrict their activities or reduce their power and influence in the church or bar them from working unsupervised with children.

So, just as in Ireland, Germany, France and Ireland, paedophiles saw the Catholic priesthood as an easy way to get trusted access to their victims, in an organization that was acting more like a paedophile ring in which religion could be used as an excuse and the church facillitated their access to victims.

Rosa Rubicondior (a pseudonym) is a retired data analyst, biologist, blogger, author and atheist.

Spanish clergy sexually abused over 200,000 children, probe estimates • FRANCE 24 English

Inquiry Reveals Shocking Scale of Child Sexual Abuse in Spanish Churches

How is Spain facing up to its Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal?

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