Spanish Ombudsman Set to Probe Church Sex Abuse

by Joseph Wilson

Associated Press

Sunday February 6, 2022

Spain's prime minister wants to task the nation's ombudsman with the country's first official investigation into the depth of sexual abuse committed by Roman Catholic clergy.

The decision by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, head of Spain's Socialist Party, was reported on Sunday by Spanish newspaper El País and confirmed by the government to the Associated Press.

The proposal of ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo to head the investigation comes days after Spanish lawmakers took the first step toward opening a parliamentary inquiry on the issue of sexual abuse in the Church.

The body representing Spain's bishops has rejected opening up a comprehensive investigation. Instead, it encourages victims to report their allegations to offices that it has set up in each of the country's dioceses. Critics say that is not enough to give a full accounting of the abuse.

The final go-ahead for a parliamentary committee depends on a vote planned for later this month.

If the plan wins parliamentary backing, Gabilondo would be charged with compiling a report based on the findings of an independent investigative committee, according to El País.

Gabilondo, 72, was named ombudsman in November. A professor of philosophy, he was education minister from 2009-11 for a Socialist-led government. Despite his political career, he is widely respected even among most of his right-wing rivals and considered a consensus figure.

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