The Vatican has opened an investigation into the Catholic Church in Spain over 251 new cases of paedophilia that involve the abuse of at least 1,237 victims.
The unprecedented move comes after Spanish newspaper El Pais delivered a document to the Pope accusing the Church of having abused at least 1,237 victims between 1943 and 2018, but the newspaper reports that “according to the testimonies collected, there may be thousands”.
El Pais published the document on Sunday 19th December along with an article announcing the investigation. The document is a 385-page report the newspaper said it handed over to Pope Francis on 2nd December, on the occasion of a trip the Pontiff made to Greece.
The Spanish newspaper said that the Pope moved quickly and that the case was expediently handed over to the ecclesiastical court in Barcelona, from which it morphed into a much wider investigation, as it affected 31 different religious orders in 31 dioceses.
El Pais said that the cases date from 1943 to 2018 and its report is said to contain 251 new complaints, which it said brings the total number of cases in Spain to 602, with each case referring to one accused person, and 1,237 different victims since the 1930s.
The newspaper said that only the strictest criteria were used when calculating the number of victims and that it only used direct testimony from either victims or witnesses.
An example of a type of case that comes up often is teachers sexually assaulting entire classes over the course of several years in one or more Catholic schools.
And the newspaper said that the real number may be much higher, saying: “Estimates such as those used by experts in studies by independent commissions in other countries would multiply the figure to several thousand.”
In its lengthy expose, the newspaper gave the examples of some of the alleged victims who have come forward.
Antonio Carpallo, now 81, was allegedly abused after he was put in an orphanage run by the Church in the 1950s when his parents died. When he was 16, he was allegedly abused when the prefect Rafael Conde allegedly “kidnapped” him. Carpallo is quoted by the newspaper as saying: “He came to my bed and touched me as and where he wanted.”
His ‘reward’ was to go and watch a football match.
And Jesus Gutierrez, now 77, was allegedly abused starting in 1959 and over a two-year period. He claimed that he was abused by a late priest called Eliseo Bardon. He said: “He called me to help him with office tasks, but it was all a lie. He kissed me. I remember his drool on me… One day he began to grope me in such a way that I ejaculated. I cried a lot, and he offered to pay me.”
Emilio Boyer, now 55, claims was nine years old when he was first beaten and punished by an Augustinian priest in Valencia. He said: “One day, he and I were in a classroom alone and the guy took off his underpants. I was nine years old, but I knew something strange was going on. ‘Hey, Emilio, if you wanted, you could get better grades…’, he told me. He hugged me, with his dick on full show.
“He had locked the classroom door. I started running and he was chasing me. If he had caught me, I would have ended up giving him a fellatio and whatever else. I was so scared that he would hit me… But then it didn’t happen. He opened the door and let me out.”
Boyer added: “After that episode he kept hitting me. It was the worst year of my life.”
El Pais said that the report it has delivered to the Vatican was the result of an investigation that began in October 2018.