CV NEWS FEED // The Spanish Bishops’ Conference unanimously approved an “integral plan” to compensate sexual abuse victims, even in cases that remain inconclusive because the offending priest has died.
Following the announcement last week, Secretary General of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference Francisco Garcia Magan said in a press conference that in a case where there is no official sentence, “we will also pay if the perpetrator is deceased or if there is a civil statute of limitations.”
Bishop Magan explained that “It will have to be examined on a case-by-case basis. And if that moral conclusion is reached, then there will be that moral reparation.”
Before this change, the Church in Spain did not compensate abuse victims if the accused priest had died.
In October, an independent commission published a report called “A Necessary Response” that estimated that more than 200,000 minors out of 39 million people in Spain had been sexually abused by Roman Catholic clergy since 1940.
According to Yahoo News, the commission’s report
did not give a specific figure, but said a poll of over 8,000 people found some 0.6 per cent of Spain’s adult population had suffered sexual abuse by members of the clergy when they were children.
The percentage rises to 1.13 per cent – or over 400,000 people – when including abuse by lay members, according to the results of the inquiry, which was led by Spain’s national ombudsman.
Cardinal Juan Jose Omella, president of the Episcopal Conference, along with the bishops, held a press conference to respond after the report was released.
In the press conference, the bishops apologized to the victims and shared their “sorrow for the damage caused by some members of the Church,” adding that the document’s recommendations were “valuable.”
Initially, the bishops expressed willingness to participate in the fund proposed by the commission to compensate victims of abuse, but “only if it is done for all victims” and not just those who suffered abuse within the Church, according to EuroNews.
“If the fund is only for Church victims, 90 percent of the victims of abuse overall will not have any right to this compensation and will be excluded,” Magan said in the October press conference.
Omella said the Church in Spain was aware of 1,125 cases of sexual abuse.