Spanish Catholic dioceses collect abuse allegations after talks with pope

Mass celebrated by Cardinal Juan José Omella in Barcelona

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s Catholic Church will set up local commissions to address complaints from abuse victims after talking to Pope Francis on Friday about allegations spanning more than eight decades detailed in a local newspaper.

El Pais in December published the results of a three-year investigation that uncovered possible abuses by 251 priests and some lay people from religious institutions against at least 1,237 victims between 1943 and 2018.

According to the paper, his correspondent delivered a 385-page dossier to the pope on December 2, as the papal entourage and journalists flew from Rome to Cyprus.

Cardinal Juan José Omella, president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, discussed sexual abuse issues in the Vatican with him and said that each diocese would create a commission to receive the accusations and then investigate.

“We have established a commission in each diocese to collect complaints to follow up on people who feel hurt and to prevent these things from happening again,” Omella said at a press conference after the meeting.

Sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church made headlines in 2002, when the Boston Globe published a series of articles exposing child abuse by clergy and a pervasive culture of cover-up within the Church.

In June, the pope called the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church a global “catastrophe”. Since his election in 2013, he has taken a series of steps aimed at ending the sexual abuse of minors by clerics.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro)

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