A report released by Spanish Ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo on Friday found that priests within the Catholic Church have abused more than 1 in every 200 Spaniards. The report was presented to the Spanish Parliament on Friday and aimed to ensure that the perpetrators are held responsible and accountable for their actions. The ombudsman also sought to create greater awareness about the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
The report detailed that, out of 8,000 interviewees, 11.7 percent were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests during their childhood or adolescence. Additionally, the report revealed that more women than men were abused and how many now suffer from mental health issues or have contemplated committing suicide.
Last year, the Spanish Parliament agreed to create an independent body to investigate the increasing cases of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. After 1,237 cases were revealed, both the Catholic Church and the Office of the Attorney General opened up a large scale investigation to identify and convict abusers as well as those who upheld the system of abuse or covered up the abuse. The investigation has been ongoing since 2021 under the direction of Gabilondo.
Despite large public backing and support for the investigation, the Catholic Church still encourages members to report allegations of abuse to the church office rather than going to the authorities. Many dioceses did not collaborate with the investigation.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez spoke on the Gabilondo’s report, stating that the report makes victims who have been suffering for many years able to have a voice. Sanchez also expressed hope that the perpetrators in the Church may finally be prosecuted, calling it a massive step in Spanish history.