Grassroots Christians on Abuses: “Bishops have to be brave or they can destroy Catholic thought” | Society


Carmen Pellería prays daily. At 67 years old, this retired teacher from Santander defines herself as an optimistic Catholic, but she is on a war footing against the position adopted by the Episcopal Conference (CEE) regarding the investigation that the Spanish Church is facing into 251 cases of pedophilia. , from which it has been unmarked, claiming that the Vatican is the competent body. “The bishops have to be brave, ask for forgiveness, investigate, meet with the victims and compensate them financially, otherwise they can destroy Catholic thought,” defends Pellería in a telephone conversation from his home. Like other grassroots Christians, this woman does not approve of some of the arguments made by the highest representatives of the Spanish Church, such as that abuse can occur in any area of ​​society. “They are the name of God and they have to open up the channel and assume responsibilities,” he says.

At the beginning of this week, after EL PAÍS handed over to the Vatican and the president of the Spanish bishops, Cardinal Juan José Omella, a copy of the investigation, a spokesman claimed to know nothing about how it is going to proceed, or what they are. the times, or if precautionary measures will be taken against those defendants still active. He explained that it is the Vatican that is in charge of the investigation and must answer these questions. This position clashes with that of the Holy See, which after receiving the report supervises the investigation of the Spanish Church. At the Vatican it is surprising that the EEC does not adhere to canonical rules, which clearly indicate that whoever receives complaints has the duty to initiate an investigation. The EEC has always refused to undertake a review of the past and rejects an independent truth commission such as the one created in France, Germany and other countries.

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Evaristo Villar, an 80-year-old from Madrid and co-founder of Redes Cristianas ―which groups together 200 Catholic organizations in Spain―, believes that the Spanish episcopate “has its back to modernity and current theology” and is not in line with “what it seems that the Pope wants it ”. “They have thrown balls out and in the end it has been a civil institution [en referencia al diario EL PAÍS] the one who has led the investigation … It is not so much a sin as a crime and it must be brought before the civil justice, since it is children it is more urgent and imperative ”. Villar is not able to understand the “concealment” of the EEC when “the majority of private education is in his hands” ―more than 60% of subsidized schools in Spain are Catholic―, and, “after all, that They are children ”, he emphasizes.

Evaristo Villar poses in his home office in Madrid.
Evaristo Villar poses in his home office in Madrid. Andrea Comas placeholder image

At the gates of the parish of San Cristóbal y San Rafael, on Bravo Murillo street in Madrid, Chechu Marcos, 49, sees with better eyes that the EEC does not take the initiative. He believes that “perhaps they have decided this way so that the investigation is more impartial” and agrees that it is the Vatican that takes the reins. He does not give further explanations.

Two kilometers from the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, in a roundabout is the parish of Santa Teresa and Santa Isabel, which gives meaning to the metro station located there: Iglesia. Conchi Arribas, 57, who crosses himself when looking at the altar of the chapel, his voice does not tremble to ask “that it be investigated” and that “whoever has to fall falls.” But he does not agree that it has to be “others” and not the EEC “the one that gets its hands dirty” to get to the truth.

Another of the arguments supported by the faithful is the “indirect mistreatment” that the bishops are dispensing to the victims by not giving them credibility. Juan José Tamayo, emeritus of the chair of Theology and Science of Religions at the Carlos III University, defends that not believing in the testimony of the victims means “undervaluing those who have suffered.” “That insensitivity to pain, lack of compassion by not taking their side, not sharing their suffering and not alleviating them with listening is monstrous.” Tamayo rejects that instead of exposing pedophiles, the EEC accuses EL PAÍS of lacking rigor, “one more proof” of its refusal to know the truth and assume its responsibility. “They are contravening the message of Jesus of Nazareth: the truth will set you free.”

In a similar way thinks the also theologian Margarita Pintos. “They have tried to minimize the scandal by claiming that there are few victims, as if a single child was not worth it, the criterion of number is anti-evangelical.” Pintos does not believe that this posture of ignoring is going to take its toll. “They know very well that their faithful are going to imitate their behavior and are going to blame the victims; some bishops have even affirmed that children provoked ”.

Emilia Robles, at her home in Rivas Vaciamadrid.
Emilia Robles, at her home in Rivas Vaciamadrid.Andrea Comas placeholder image

Emilia Robles, coordinator since 2002 of the international Christian network Proconcil, has mixed feelings. On the one hand, he makes a very harsh criticism of the Spanish Church. He believes that “throwing balls out saying that this also happens outside” is not tolerable. “Obviously, where there is uncontrolled abuse of power and unhealthy sexuality can happen. But the repetition in the Church shows that there is a continuous abuse of power, without control ”, he exposes. Robles defends voluntary celibacy as long as the person has a good emotional balance, feels fulfilled in that state and is linked to the free service. But he questions the “institutionalized celibacy coupled with privileges and power, which is intended to be the ideal of perfection, devaluing life as a couple in practice.” In his opinion, the root of the problem can be traced back to the fact that “affective-sexual education has been lacking in seminaries for decades.” On the other hand, he asks that the entire hierarchy of the Church not be put in the same “bag”. “There are also lay people who are prone to concealment and impunity for abuses of power,” he argues.

If you know of any case of sexual abuse that has not seen the light of day, write us with your complaint to [email protected]


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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