Church in Spain again asks forgiveness for sexual abuse

Cardinal Juan José Omella and lawyer Javier Cremades at a press conference in Madrid, Spain, Feb. 22, 2022. Cardinal Juan José Omella Omella of Barcelona and Javier Cremades at a press conference in Madrid, Feb. 22, 2022. | Screenshot from EpiscopalConferencia YouTube channel.

During his address opening the Spanish Bishops’ Conference’s Plenary Assembly on Monday, Cardinal Juan José Omella Omella of Barcelona expressed his pain over the sexual abuse committed by members of the Church and his desire to clarify what happened.

"The Church expresses its profound pain and once again asks for forgiveness for the crimes committed by our brothers," Cardinal Omella, the conference president, said April 25.

He also noted that "in order to address the drama of the abuse and improve the procedures that the different ecclesial entities have put in place, the conference has commissioned the prestigious law firm Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo to carry out an independent audit of the way the cases of sexual abuse that occurred within the Catholic Church in Spain were handled. The audit will be carried out on all the cases documented to date and those that may be presented both to that firm and to the diocesan offices while the study is being carried out.”

This is a step of the conference that Cardinal Omella said is part of "a long course undertaken for years and which doesn’t detract from the work of the dioceses and religious orders, but rather supports and complements it."

“This step adds transparency, technical rigor and legal consistency when dealing with a drama that is very painful for the Church, and for this reason I reiterate our humble request for forgiveness for each case, and I want to underline once again that the victims are our absolute priority,” Cardinal Omella said.

The head of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference also stressed that "the Church has the opportunity to work towards these abuses not being repeated and to uncover this new form of global slavery which people would rather not address."

“It’s a new slavery that affects all of society which we are becoming aware of and in which, unfortunately, some members of the Church have also taken part in,” he emphasized.

Last month the Spanish parliament overwhelmingly approved the creation of an independent commission to investigate alleged sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, assigning the country’s ombudsman to lead the investigation.

Additionally, Spain’s Attorney General Dolores Delgado has requested that the 17 head prosecutors of the country’s autonomous regional governments remit all open criminal proceedings for sexual abuse committed by members of the Church and other religious groups.

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