Spanish archbishop slams government’s obsession with the Catholic Church

Oviedo Archbishop Jesús Sanz Montes accused the government of focusing “in a biased and manipulative way on the problem of pedophilia as something attributable only to the Catholic Church.” / Credit: Archdiocese of Oviedo

ACI Prensa Staff, May 2, 2024 / 18:50 pm (CNA).

“They have done it again. It is a kind of obsessive mantra every time they need a smokescreen to distract from the real problems we have and to which they so clumsily and insidiously apply their tortuous governance.”

That is how the archbishop of Oviedo, Jesús Sanz Montes, began a letter released this week titled “The Accusing Rattle” in which he responds to the socialist government’s announcement of an exclusive plan to address sexual and power abuses committed within the Catholic Church.

In the opinion of the prelate, the country’s executive “has tried to focus in a biased and manipulative way on the problem of pedophilia as something attributable only to the Catholic Church, which represents an exclusive and improper singling out and leaves unprotected the majority of those who have suffered this terrible scourge.”

The Franciscan archbishop encouraged people to denounce “the deceitful, biased, or false information and to humbly say how much good we do as a Christian community,” while at the same time acknowledging errors, asking for forgiveness, and accompanying victims.

The archbishop said Christians are called to defend abuse victims, “assuming our responsibility in what concerns us, but urging that the entire society also adopt appropriate measures, starting with government leaders,” he added.

Sanz criticized the executive for falsifying “the identity of the human person” and destroying “anthropology in its masculine and feminine identity.” 

He added that the government propagates a version of feminism that not only fails to eradicate unjust sexist violence against women but “actually exacerbates it” along with “a perverse pornographic and obscene manipulation that confuses and harms children and young people based on gender ideology.”

If such policies are maintained, the archbishop predicts, “the society thus poisoned and confused will be more manipulable by those who, from their narcissistic and fallacious amorality, seek to perpetuate themselves in power.”

The prelate has described as “clear” the statement from the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE, by its Spanish acronym) in which it rejected the government’s plan and denounced that the plan “parts from a condemnatory judgment of the entire Church, carried out without any type of legal guarantee, a public and discriminatory accusation by the state.”

Sanz emphasized that “we must not allow ourselves to be identified with this false story that disfigures the true work of the Church” and, turning the tables on the subject, asked: “Which institution of those affected by this crime has taken the matter seriously? Which ones have created offices of shelter and support, have preventively educated their members, and have actively collaborated with the prosecutor’s office?”

‘The arbitrary imputation is unacceptable’

The prelate reminded the faithful that the problem of the sexual abuse of minors in Spain is one in which Catholic clergy and religious account for a miniscule 0.2% part. That figure comes from a study by the Anar Foundation, specialized in the protection of children, which details that between 2008 and 2009, 0.2% of the more than 6,000 reported cases of abuse can be attributed to priests and religious.

According to the cited foundation that works on the prevention of child abuse, parents represented the largest number of aggressors, totaling 23.3%. Companions occupied second place among perpetrators against minors, with 8.7%, while friends represent 5.7% and partners, boyfriends, or girlfriends represent 5.6%.

The archbishop of Oviedo concluded by rejecting as unacceptable “the arbitrary accusation that only focuses on us, with such a low criminal percentage, to a whole series of legal, fiscal, economic, and social measures,” adding: “What do those who continue in this foul play want to cover up or distract from? ‘Cui prodest?’ said Seneca [‘Who benefits?’].”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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