If a few weeks ago the French Catholic Church announced its intention to sell a large part of the assets it has available, and even to request a bank loan if necessary, in order to be able to face the compensation that, voluntarily, it intends to give to all the victims of pedophilia that occurred during decades in dozens of Catholic schools and boarding schools or in the sacristies of French churches, abuses that an internal report described as a “systemic dimension”, the Portuguese Church has just decided, through its Episcopal Conference That an independent commission study, objectively and with the consequences that may be, the cases of sexual abuse committed by members of the Portuguese Church during the twentieth century.
The main characteristic of these initiatives is that, at the very least, they recognize that abuses have existed and that therefore the Churches of both countries face a double problem. The first is about the fact that if this scandal that begins to drag on in time is not stopped, admitting the facts and repairing the damage caused with compensation (the words, however kind they are, are blown away), the echo of sexual abuse committed by mature men on boys and girls will forever remain attached to an institution that pretends not to disappear. In any case, admitting pedophilia and compensating the victims does not erase the memory of the damage caused, but it allows us to look to the future. The second problem concerns the continuity in the vigilance that the Catholic Church must strictly carry out in all places where priests have contact with children, that is, in schools, churches and foster homes.
The French Episcopal Conference commissioned an independent commission to carry out a real study to clarify the scope of the abuses committed which, after more than two years of investigation, has issued a report in which despite the time that has elapsed and also despite the fact that in reality the cases evidenced They are only a small part of what is suspected to have actually happened, an overwhelming reality is described. And that has only been investigated from 1950 to 2020. What happened before? It will never be known. This commission has accredited that until 2000 the victims were ignored by the French Church, their abusers being protected, silencing what happened and, at most, sending the pedophile priests to another parish where they evidently continued with their miserable customs. Following the example of this change in attitude, the Portuguese Catholic Church, also at the initiative of its Episcopal Conference, has confirmed the creation of a special independent commission that will expose all the abuses committed in the last fifty years regardless of the consequences.
The barbarity of sexual violence (it must be called by its name) that occurred in the Catholic Church of Ireland by religious of this country on minors, children for the most part, was already known. It was also hidden by the Catholic hierarchy and by various Popes. We now know about this initiative from France and Portugal, joined by similar movements in Germany and Belgium.
Therefore, as the only country of some importance in the field of Catholicism, the Spanish case remains. The Spanish Catholic Church has gone through two eras. The first was to hide and deny any case of pedophilia in their ranks. For years, the few cases that were made public thanks to journalistic investigations or complaints that after a long labyrinth managed to reach the courts, were buried by a thick silence on the part of the Catholic hierarchy and the related media. In a second moment, when the complaints of sexual abuse became an avalanche, the Spanish Church began a slow path of recognition of the facts plagued by silences, equivocal phrases and half-truths. Sooner or later the Spanish Church will have to make a decision very similar to the one they have already made in France or Italy: the creation of an independent commission that will put the truth of what happened black on white. The refusal to do so has to do with the fear of the Spanish Episcopal Conference that once the truth box about pedophilia is opened in Spain other truths take on corporeity, such as, for example, its support for the Franco dictatorship, theft of babies or what is really the real estate assets under his belt.
Finally. It should also be studied what should have happened in the time prior to the start of the study of these investigation commissions, around 1950. In Spain, generalized abuse of children and boys has been studied since the establishment of the Franco dictatorship, but what about before? I wonder if the cause of the persecution of religious, with murders included, which occurred at the beginning of the Civil War after the 1936 Coup d’état and which ended when the legitimate Government established order on the Republican side, had something to do with the pedophilia that logically should already exist before the beginning of the Franco dictatorship. We will never know this either.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.