Celso Morga: "We are committed to eradicating child abuse".

The Spanish bishops are "committed to eradicate" the abuse of minors, and "help the victims, trying to repair the damage. They study for this "case by case, also those of the past," said the Archbishop of Merida-Badajoz, Monsignor Celso Morga, in an article published today on the Omnes website.

María José Atienza / Rafael Miner-February 10, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes
child abuse

Photo credit: Caleb Woods /Unsplash

"All Catholics are pained in our souls by these facts that have as their object a grave matter before God and that are grave crimes also before men, leaving indelible negative traces on those who are victims," he begins by stating in Omnes the Archbishop of Mérida - Badajoz, Celso Morga.

Monsignor Morga assures that "the bishops in Spain, in communion with the Holy Father and the entire universal Church, are committed to eradicating, as far as possible, these absolutely unacceptable behaviors in all areas of society and, even more so, in the Church".

The Spanish Episcopal Conference, for its part, "has sent to Rome for approval a very extensive and detailed General Decree on how to deal with abuses in the Church, whose approval we are awaiting.

At the same time, "each Diocese has created an Office for the Protection of Minors and Prevention of Abuse to receive complaints, accompany and assist victims as a preliminary step to criminal legal treatment if appropriate".

A false interpretation

Monsignor Celso Morga wishes to avoid any possible confusion. "The initiative of some political parties for Congress [it seems that it will be the Ombudsman] to examine cases of abuse in the Church," he says, "should not be interpreted as if the bishops are not doing anything, nor are they interested in clarifying cases of abuse, nor the pain of the victims. This is not the case.

"In the Episcopal Conference it did not seem convenient to create a national Commission to examine the cases of abuse committed, as has been done, for example, by the French Episcopal Conference -adds the Archbishop of Emerita-, "because it seemed that it is a way that does not solve the problem.

These initiatives bring to light an absolute number of cases, which subsequently receive well-founded criticism as to their statistical accuracy because it is objectively difficult, over such a long time span, to be precise.

Case by case study

"To the Spanish Episcopal Conference, until now, it has seemed more effective and fair to study case by caseThe same applies to past cases, but with procedural guarantees and an attitude of sincere and Christian help to the victims, trying by all means to repair the damage, as far as possible".

Archbishop Celso Morga recognizes that, "perhaps in the past we did not take sufficiently into consideration, neither in the Church nor in society in general, the enormous gravity of these facts, which on the other hand are linked to our human condition, which struggles in an endless combat against what is not worthy of the human being. It is time to react and for all of us to make every effort to stop, as far as possible, these deplorable events".

"We are sincerely committed to this in the Church and the Lord will help us," concludes Archbishop Morga.

He is not the only Spanish bishop who, in recent days, has spoken out on this issue. A sad issue that, although it comes from afar, in recent weeks has returned to the forefront after the government's announcement of commissioning a commission of inquiry into sexual abuse in the Church.

This is in addition to the recent visit ad limina The meeting of the Spanish prelates in which the management and reparation of these terrible acts was one of the topics discussed with Pope Francis who, shortly before, had received a dossier containing 251 reports of abuse in the last seventy years referring to Spanish clerics, diocesan priests and religious prepared by a Spanish newspaper.

Bishops such as the Bishop of Burgos, Mario Iceta, have also thanked the media and others for their efforts to help us clarify the facts guided by the principle of truth and justice, to repair as far as possible the damage caused, to hold accountable those who have committed such crimes, and to do everything possible to ensure that these events do not happen again.

For his part, the bishop spokesman of the EEC, Luis Argüello, has reiterated his willingness to investigate all cases that may have been committed in the ecclesiastical sphere and the seriousness of these cases, regardless of whether they are many or few.

"We want to know the truth."

In this regard, the video published by the Spanish Episcopal Conference in which the director of the Episcopal Commission for Social Communications, José Gabriel Vera, points out that, although cases of abuse of minors in the Church are estimated at around 0.2% (Data from the ANAR Foundation), "even if there was only one case for the Church it is something serious and terrible, which it has to look at and take care of. We cannot say that the cases are not significant. They are painful and cause great shame," says the director of the Episcopal Commission for Social Communications.

In addition, Vera points out the desire of the Spanish Church to "know the truth, to know how many cases there have been, under what circumstances they have occurred and why these people have been treated badly". A knowledge aimed at the prevention of these cases and the creation of safe spaces.

Diocesan offices

What is certain is that the Catholic Church in Spain has promptly set up offices for the protection of minors and the presentation of complaints of abuse committed.

These offices, as José Gabriel Vera explains, "seek to welcome, from the point of view of restorative accompaniment, the victims and to put their demands in the appropriate channel". These offices differ from the legal channel established for the denunciation of cases committed by priests and religious.

In fact, its work is directed to all those who have suffered abuse, whether or not the statute of limitations has expired or the abuser has died, and even to people who have suffered abuse in areas other than the ecclesiastical sphere.

In addition, many dioceses, religious orders and Catholic schools have implemented common processes for the protection of minors, protocols for educational centers and training for teachers and students for the detection and prevention of child abuse.

As Vera emphasizes, "all victims deserve reparations". Even though there is still a long way to go and to investigate, the Spanish Church does not shirk its responsibility and action in this painful but necessary task.  

The authorMaría José Atienza / Rafael Miner

La Brújula Newsletter Leave us your email and receive every week the latest news curated with a catholic point of view.
Banner advertising
Banner advertising