MADRID (Reuters) -Spain’s public prosecutor has given its regional offices 10 days to provide the results of ongoing judicial investigations into the sexual abuse of minors by the Catholic Church, a prosecutor’s source told Reuters on Tuesday.
Separately, parliament approved a vote on a motion by some small leftist parties to set up its own investigation into the issue, though any such a panel would take time to materialise and the vote will face opposition from right-wing parties.
In an emailed statement, Spain’s Bishop’s Conference said it welcomed all judicial investigations “as they contribute to the elimination of this social scourge”. It added that the investigation would shed light on the extent of the abuses.
Spain’s Catholic Church said last month it would set up commissions at diocese level to hear complaints from abuse victims, following a meeting by its senior leaders with Pope Francis in Rome.
The Spanish Church has a special page on its website on how to handle abuse cases where it says when a complaint is made to the Church all evidence gathered would be sent directly to the Vatican. It also encourages victims to come forward and file a case with the regional prosecutor.
In December, Madrid’s El Pais newspaper said its own three-year investigation uncovered potential abuse by 251 priests and some lay people from religious institutions against at least 1,237 victims between 1943 and 2018.
Last week, socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had talks with Juan Jose Omella, president of Spain’s Bishops’ Conference, and will meet this week with one alleged victim of abuse.
Sexual abuse scandals in the global Catholic Church first hit the headlines in 2002, when a U.S. daily, the Boston Globe, wrote a series of articles exposing abuses of minors by clerics and a widespread culture of concealment within the Church.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of cases have emerged around the world.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo; additional reporting by Belén Carreño, editing by Aislinn Laing, Raissa Kasolowsky and Mark Heinrich)