03 January 2024, The Tablet

Spanish bishops publish revised abuse study after lawyers’ report

The Cremades study estimated 1,383 cases of abuse in the Spanish Church, but the bishops disputed this figure.

Spanish bishops publish revised abuse study after lawyers’ report

Javier Cremades, left, with the president of the Spanish bishops’ conference Cardinal Juan José Omella.
Associated Press / Alamy

Spain’s bishops have disputed the findings of a report which they commissioned almost two years ago on sex abuse in the Spanish Church.

The bishops’ criticisms of the Cremades study – known after Javier Cremades, the partner from the law firm Sotelo who led the investigation – prompted confusion over their position on abuse cases.

After receiving the study on 19 December, they published an updated version of a Church report first issued in May and put a link to the Cremades study on the bishops’ conference website.

The bishops’ report, titled Para Dar Luz (“To Shed Light”), is notably more favourable to the Church than the Cremades report. 

Sex abuse in the Church drew public attention in Spain in October, after the national ombudsman produced a report, commissioned by the Spanish parliament in March 2022, which suggested that 1.13 per cent of people in Spain had suffered sexual abuse in Church spheres.

Precise numbers of cases are uncertain. The Cremades study gives a figure of 1,383, whereas a database kept by the daily El País put the number of cases in September 2023 at 1,021.

The bishops’ report gives a figure of 806 cases and objects to the Cremades study’s method: “The audit-report simply gives a copy of cases that have appeared in previous studies without carrying out a thoroughgoing study of them and makes conceptual errors, such as  considering as distinct complaints those made in dioceses and those from the Dicastery [of the Doctrine of the Faith], which have their origin in these earlier ones.”

One of the bishops’ report’s central arguments is that the Church is not the main site of child sexual abusePara Dar Luz devotes 35 pages to a history of pederasty in society from Ancient Greece to the present.

While the Cremades study says that the number of abuse cases is likely to be much higher than the 1,383 it reached, the bishops’ report maintained that double-counting meant the real number would be lower.

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