Archbishop Francisco Javier Martínez Fernández of Granada in southern Spain has suspended a group of 10 priests from their duties after they were accused of sexually abusing a young man when he was a minor.
Two lay people are also implicated in the case, according to the website Religión Digital.
The young man, now in his 20s, wrote a five-page letter to Pope Francis, motivated by “the possible damage” that “other boys and girls could be suffering”.
Pope Francis phoned the man directly, asking forgiveness in the name of the Church. The case is now being investigated by a Granada court. According to the Spanish website El Païs, a gagging order has been placed on the case summary.
The man, who is now in his twenties, received a phone call from an unknown number while he was driving. “Who is this?” asked the man.
“Good afternoon son, this is Fr Jorge,” the voice on the phone said.
“Sorry, you must have made a mistake, I don’t know Fr Jorge,” the man answered.
“Well, it’s Pope Francis.”
The Pope reportedly continued: “I have read your letter a number of times. I couldn’t be more upset about it and feel huge pain on reading your story. I want to ask forgiveness in the name of all of the Church of Christ. Forgive this terrible sin and terrible crime that you have suffered.”
He then told the man “there are already people working to resolve all of this.”
The archbishop issued a statement on Monday saying he had followed the procedures outlined by the Vatican and investigated the allegations. He suspended the priests as a precautionary measure, passed the findings of his investigation to the Holy See and notified the civil authorities, who are now investigating the case.