No fewer than 200,000 minors are estimated to have been sexually abused in Spain by the Roman Catholic clergy since 1940, according to an independent commission which was published.
Although a precise number was not provided, the research stated that 0.6 percent of Spain’s adult population, which is estimated to be over 39 million, reported having been sexually abused as children by members of the clergy.
The percentage rises to 1.13 percent — or over 400,000 people — when including abuse by lay members, Spain’s national ombudsman Angel Gabilondo told a news conference called to present the findings of the report.
The revelations in Spain are the latest to rock the Roman Catholic Church after a series of sexual abuse scandals around the world, often involving children, over the past 20 years.
But unlike in other nations, in Spain — a traditionally Catholic country that has become highly secular — clerical abuse allegations are only now gaining traction, leading to accusations by survivors of stonewalling.
‘Unfortunately, for many years there has been a certain desire to deny abuses or a desire to conceal or protect the abusers,’ said Gabilondo, a former education minister.
The report is critical of the attitude of the Catholic Church, calling its response to cases of child abuse involving the clergy “insufficient”. It recommended the creation of a state fund to pay reparations to victims.
Just before the report was presented in parliament, the Spanish bishops conference said it would hold an extraordinary meeting on Monday to discuss its findings.
Spain’s parliament in March 2022 overwhelmingly approved the creation of an independent commission led by the country’s ombudsman to ‘shed light’ on allegations of sexual abuse of ‘defenceless boys and girls’ within the Catholic Church.
Spain’s Catholic Church, which for years flatly refused to carry out its own probe, declined to take part in the independent investigation, although it did cooperate by providing documents on cases of sexual abuse that had been collected by dioceses.