The Church is pushing ahead with its Comprehensive Reparation Plan for victims of abuse, oblivious to government pressure

The extraordinary Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference on Tuesday morning approved the guidelines that guide the action of the Church in relation to sexual abuse committed against minors, the Comprehensive Reparation Plan for victims of abuse of minors and persons equal in rights (Priva) and the guiding criteria of this plan. The approved documents have been presented to the associations of victims of abuse and senior superiors of congregations summoned to the closing session of the meeting.

In his words, the president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, the Archbishop of Valladolid Luis Argüello, recalled that this decision is situated “within a work that the Church has been developing at different paces for 20 years.” In his case, “it is six years ago, with the publication of certain Vatican regulations and the convocation of the presidents of the episcopal conferences in Rome, when the process widened, deepened and accelerated.”

Argüello has shown that he is aware that “none of this can heal the pain of the victims by itself” and has stated his intention to “continue collaborating with the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the State security forces” to report the cases of which they are aware. However, the Priva now approved “is intended to be a subsidiary plan when the legal, civil, criminal, and canonical avenues and the resources for civil reparation have already been exhausted,” Argüello explained. Thus, he has presented it as a sign that “the Church keeps the door open to be able to listen to any victim, accept their pain and respond with a proposal for comprehensive reparation.”

In a subsequent press conference, Argüello explained that “many of the cases we have learned about occurred before the 1990s and have closed criminal proceedings and in some cases, also canonical proceedings, although the Church has the power to lift this prescription. But in many cases, due to the death of the perpetrator, the proceedings are closed. Today we want to open the door to all of them.”

Argüello also wanted to respond to Minister Bolaños who on Monday, in an urgent meeting with victims’ associations, criticised the bishops’ plan and described it as unacceptable due to its “unilateral” nature. “Yesterday a minister said that it is unilateral, of course it is!” he stated forcefully. “It is unilateral because it is our free decision-making that responds to a moral obligation, not a legal one, which we assume on our own initiative, ‘motu proprio’ in ecclesiastical language.” “And what they have wanted to use as a reproach is in reality a recognition because when the legal avenues are closed, if a door is not opened in another way, as we have done, it is not possible to solve it,” he explained.

In this way, Argüello fulfills the commitment that the leadership of the Episcopal Conference made with Pope Francis, during his last visit to the Vatican on May 31, to have the Reparation Plan approved by the beginning of July so that it can be put into practice at the beginning of the new academic year.


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