Dioceses and other religious orders have paid millions to sexual abuse victims over the past 40 years to silence them. According to El País, 173 victims have been compensated by the Roman Catholic Church.
The church itself does not want to disclose how many victims compensation has been paid to. But it does say there have been “very few” cases of abuse. El País has based the number of 173 victims on cases reported in the media and the number of lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church. However, official figures on the number of children abused within the church are not known.
France to pay compensation to 330 victims
More recently, the Catholic Church of France has acknowledged that 330,000 children have been victims of sexual abuse by priests or others involved in the Church. In order to be able to financially compensate all victims, the French Catholic Church is going to sell part of its possessions.
According to information available to El País, abuse cases of 43 Catholic pedophiles are known in Spain. It would concern 20 priests, 17 other religious, 2 seminarians (students in training to become clergy) and 4 lay people with a pastoral function. The courts are said to have imposed an average compensation of €12,000 per victim per victim. However, the amounts vary widely in each case, from €600 to more than €50,000.
In any case, it is certain there are considerably more abuse victims than the number compensated by the church. According to El País, there are certainly more than 945. However, most have not taken legal action. Therefore, the only official figure currently known about child abuse within the Catholic Church is a publication of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) from last April. There, it stated that since 2001, 220 priests have been charged with child abuse in Spain.
There is also still great uncertainty about the exact number of extrajudicial settlements between the dioceses and the victims, in exchange for silence about the abuses. Pope Francis banned the payment of this hush money in 2019. Two years ago, El País wrote about an amount of €72,000 that was paid out of court in 2002 to a victim in Salamanca who had been abused as a child in the 1980s. Furthermore, as far as is known, this is the highest amount paid to one victim.
Spain continues to deny child abuse
For many abuse victims who went to court in recent years, the abuse has now become time-barred. Therefore, they can no longer legally claim compensation. Only voluntary compensation by the Catholic Church is then still possible. However, for that to happen, the abuse must be acknowledged. But Spain, unlike France and Italy, does not do. Instead, Spain continues to deny the abuses. Furthermore, Portugal has now also announced that it will start an investigation into the abuses within the Roman Catholic Church.