Navarra recognizes the victims of sexual abuse by the Church and the "serious violations of human rights"
José Luis, victim of abuses by the Church, collects a statement delivered by the President of the Government of Navarra, María Chivite and Eduardo Santos, Minister of Justice and Migratory Policies.
José Luis, victim of abuses by the Church, collects a statement delivered by the President of the Government of Navarra, María Chivite and Eduardo Santos, Minister of Justice and Migratory Policies.PABLO LASAOSA

Navarra has recognized this Wednesday the victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Twenty of the more than sixty pedophile complainants registered so far —according to the report prepared by the UPNA— have attended the event, in which they have been given the institutional declaration approved this morning by the Regional Government. It is the first act of its kind in Spain and the emotion of the victims has been more than palpable.

In a conversation with this newspaper, the first whistleblower of abuse in Navarra, José Luis Pérez, thanked the recognition and remembered his brother, who, he says, was “the one who really started all this”. His brother, before committing suicide, left a written letter in which he recounted all the abuses suffered when he was a child at the Seminary School of the Repairing Parents, in the Navarrese municipality of Puente La Reina. Abuses that José Luis also suffered. All this encouraged him to take a step forward and tell his testimony in the Chain BE. When it was made public on February 25, 2019, around thirty people also raised their voices about him. His story adds to that of the hundreds of victims throughout Spain who have taken the step of telling their story in the media in the last three years.

José Luis recalls all the steps taken: they have come to attend the Congress of Deputies, the Parliament of Navarra and have achieved the political and social support necessary for the Provincial Chamber to recognize them as victims. In fact, in the plenary session this Thursday, the Parliament debates the consideration of the Provincial Law Proposal for the recognition of victims of sexual abuse committed within the Catholic Church of Navarra. After processing the regional law, an investigation commission will be created that may grant the status of victims to these complainants.

In the Institutional Declaration, the Government of Navarra has recognized the “existence of serious human rights violations” in institutions dependent on the Catholic Church and has expressed its solidarity with the victims. Similarly, it has recognized their right to justice, memory and reparation. In addition, the Executive recognizes the double victimization suffered by these people as a result of the “imposed and self-imposed silence” due to the particularities of these abuses: the age of the victims – minors at the time of the crime – and the context of special vulnerability before the aggressors . All this, the statement concludes, prevented “meeting the victims’ demands for justice.”

This recognition has been framed within the second session of FORU, the international cycle of Justice, Human Rights and Democracy, in which the Irish magistrate Sean Ryan, former president of the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Ireland and responsible of the Independent Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse in Ireland.

During his work as director of said commission, his team collected testimonies, information and files for nearly ten years to repair the victims of sexual abuse in Irish religious centers, which resulted in the publication of the so-called Ryan Report, published in 2009 and which established that this type of abuse had been “endemic”, especially in male student centers. “Why delay the inevitable? Why delay the truth? If it is going to end up being known”, Ryan has underlined about the reluctance of the Church to open his files and investigate his past.

“We are not going against the Church”

Subsequently, a conversation was held between the theologian Juan José Tamayo and the educator and researcher Paula Merelo, author of the book Vulnered Adults in the Church, on the role of society and the Church in the face of the pain of vulnerable people. The theologian has harshly criticized the speech and actions of the bishops on the subject of abuse in recent years, especially after the scandal broke through the media. “It is a shame for the Catholic hierarchy itself that it has had to be the newspaper EL PAÍS that has carried out this investigation for a time to identify the 600 cases [que han salido a la luz] and that it was the newspaper EL PAÍS that sent the report to the Pope and the president of the Episcopal Conference [Española] and, from that moment, they have begun to have an attitude of change”.

Tamayo has also stressed that “it is time” for the Church to take a step back on the commission that it entrusted to the Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo law firm to provide an x-ray of past abuses. Since, in his opinion, the director of the firm, Javier Cremades, is a member of Opus Dei and that reduces the independence of the work of said commission. “A change is possible”, warned, however, the theologian, who suggests that the Spanish bishops imitate the path followed by other countries, such as Portugal.

The event, attended by a hundred people, has not gone unnoticed in the political sphere. Moreover, it has provoked criticism from the Navarre Popular Party, whose president, Ana Beltrán, has asserted that with this act the Foral Government has become the “political tribunal of the Catholic Church”. Some statements that have not sat well with some of the survivors of abuse. “Us [las víctimas] We are not going against the Church, but against its hierarchy. Catholics deserve a lot of respect from me”, affirms Koldo Eslava, a former student of the Marist school in Pamplona in the sixties who suffered abuse by a religious, who also asked Beltrán the following question: “What would you say if you had a daughter or a son victim of these horrors? I don’t wish it.”

#Navarra #recognizes #victims #sexual #abuse #Church #violations #human #rights

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.