Victims of abuse respond to the Episcopal Conference: “We cannot allow lies and deceit”

Una víctima de abusos posa en el interior de la iglesia de la abadía de Montserrat, en la provincia de Barcelona.
A victim of abuse poses inside the church of the abbey of Montserrat, in the province from Barcelona. SUSANA VERA

“Hurtful and revictimizing” for the victims of pedophilia crimes in the ecclesiastical sphere. This is how the National Stolen Childhood Association (ANIR) branded the statements made on Thursday by the spokesman for the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE), Luis Argüello, that the Spanish Church will not carry out a “proactive” investigation of abuse cases. From the past. “We are certainly not going to proactively do a general research program,” he reiterated Thursday. ANIR, through a press release, shows its displeasure. “We cannot allow the victims to lie, deceive and outrage the integrity of the victims,” ​​they have ruled in the letter. In addition to demanding a general investigation of the abuses, the entity fights since 2019 so that the Church attends to the victims and their families, apologizes to them and indemnify them. The Episcopal Conference continues to resist.

The Spanish Church, along with the Italian, remains an exception in Western Catholic countries that Like France and Germany, they are conducting investigations. The bishops’ spokesman limited himself to replying that his work will be limited to assisting “any person” who approaches the victim assistance offices, created in each of the 70 diocese, or the associations that work with them. ANIR has communicated that they are surprised and amazed by this “complacency” of Argüello. The operation of these offices is being “very ineffective and lacking in rigor,” according to the association. For this reason, and because they have been receiving “all kinds of complaints” from the victims for some time, they have demanded that they change course radically.

Argüello insisted that “complaints have been minimal” in the last year, since these offices, opened by order of the Pope, began their work. “Monsignor, after your words you can sense the long shadow of Rouco Varela and his host of denialist bishops,” ANIR responded, urging the spokesperson to “step away from that line of argument that offends boys and girls, nowadays adults, who suffered one of the most bloody crimes that exist ”. The number of cases of pedophilia in the Spanish Catholic Church amounts to 358, with at least 908 victims, according to the accounting kept by EL PAÍS, in the absence of official data or those of the bishops. They are 10 times more than those known only three years ago, when this newspaper began to investigate. “We are talking about attacks against human rights, which they have covered up and of which, in some cases, they have been and continue to be accomplices,” ANIR denounced.

El portavoz de la Conferencia Episcopal Española, Luis Argüello, en la rueda de prensa de este jueves en Madrid tras la reunión de la Comisión Permanente de los obispos.
The spokesman of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Luis Argüello, at the wheel of press of this Thursday in Madrid after the meeting of the Permanent Commission of the bishops. JJ Guillén / EFE

The spokesperson of the Spanish bishops has also had to publicly confront the latest case of abuse in the Church that has come to light, that of the renowned priest Cesáreo Gabaráin, accused of at least 17 victims in the sixties and seventies, as published by EL PAÍS. Gabaráin was chaplain of the Marist College of Chamberí in Madrid and composer of the most famous songs sung at mass, such as Fisherman of men or Together as brothers . His case is especially serious: he was denounced by several families from the center and expelled in 1978, but he was simply relocated to another school and a parish in Madrid. But Argüello said the Church will not “proactively” open an investigation into the case. Regarding the possibility of prohibiting the reproduction of his musical work out of respect for the victims, he affirmed that it is something “exaggerated” and said that it would be a sentence “typical of medieval times” in which “sambenitos” were hung and it remained ” contaminated “all the past and what could be done in the future.

” This which for you seems to be a game Trileros is not a game. They are human lives and dramas that are not erased and persist over time, attacks on children’s rights, a public health issue, which in many cases have also ended in tragedy ”, ANIR concluded in the letter.

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