Three Priests and a Lay Person Arrested in Abuse Scandal in Granada, Spain, after Pope's Intervention

Three Catholic priests and a layman have been arrested by the police in Granada, Spain, charged with the sexual abuse of minors, the Spanish Ministry of the Interior confirmed on November 24.

The arrests came after the Spanish media last week revealed that Pope Francis had intervened directly in the case of the sexual abuse of a minor by priests in the archdiocese of Granada, Spain, after a survivor had written a letter to him last August. The survivor denounced the case to the public prosecutor after speaking to the pope a second time last October. The prosecutor then opened an investigation and it became clear last week that arrests were imminent.

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Last August, the young man declared in his letter to the pope that he was 24 years old and ‘a supernumerary of Opus Dei.” He told the Argentine pope that he was abused, over a five-year period, by three priests while he served as an altar boy at the parish of San Juan Maria de Viannei in Granada between the ages of 13 and 17. He claimed that others too were abused. He decided to write the letter after hearing that the Pope in July told other survivors that he would show ‘zero tolerance’ to clergy or religious that sexually abused minors. (El Pais obtained a copy of the letter)  

The young man was astounded, however, when the Pope called him on his cellular phone at 17.23 hours on August 10 and asked his pardon for “this very great sin, and this very great crime,” and promised to investigate and intervene. It’s understood that the Pope subsequently contacted the archbishop and instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to intervene. After speaking with the pope, the young man denounced the abuse to the archdiocesan authorities and the archbishop then carried out an investigation and suspended the three priests, but did little else. 

Last October, the Pope phoned the young man a second time the Spanish media said. But when he learned how little the archdiocesan authorities had done he was not pleased and, it seems—though there is no confirmation from the Vatican—that he encouraged the young man to make a denunciation to the judicial authorities. Subsequently, the young man went to the public prosecutor of Andalucía and told the full story. This led to the investigation now under way and to today’s arrest of the three priests and a lay person.

It has emerged that the three priests are members of a ‘conservative spiritualist’ group called ‘Los Romanones’, led by sixty-one year old Father Roman—the group took its name from him, and appeared to have much money and houses which they would use not only for catechetical purposes or to encourage vocations, but also for sexual activities. There were several other priests in the group too.

The national police arrested Father Roman and two of the priests—Manuel Morales and Francisco Javier Montes in Granada on November 24, the Spanish authorities stated. But investigations are still underway in Spain, and other priests are under scrutiny.

Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez of Valladolid, president of the Spanish Bishops Conference, last week said the local church was willing to collaborate with judicial authorities, the Pope, and the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

On Sunday, November 23, the archbishop of Granada prostrated himself during mass at the city’s cathedral, along with other people, as a sign of his sorrow and repentance; he asked forgiveness for “the damage done” and “the scandal caused” to the church in the archdiocese. But many in Spain think the archbishop cannot remain as head of the diocese after such a scandal that has rocked the church here in this country.

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John Fitzgerald
3 years 4 months ago
Outstanding!
ed gleason
3 years 4 months ago
We all can understand secret and personal offenses as they are as old as Cain and Able .. But a cabal of 4 or more perverts in religious cover needs be rooted out without using the soft glove
Robert Lewis
3 years 4 months ago
This piece of news must be widely disseminated; it puts paid to the charge that this pope is as passive as his predecessors in combating child-abuse.
Stan Zorin
3 years 4 months ago
How was Benedict XVI passive ?
Anne Chapman
3 years 4 months ago
Benedict did not act against any priests until very late in the game. Benedict persoally refused the request of US bishops in the US to investigate and laicize a priest who was abusing deaf boys in a Catholic boarding school. Not only did Benedict refuse to act himself, he, of course, did not encourage the bishops to call the police http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/world/europe/25vatican.html?pagewanted=all Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit. Benedict did not take any disciplinary actions against bishops who protected child molesters by moving them from parish to parish, including serial molesters such as John Geoghan who was protected by Cardinal Law for many years. Instead, Cardinal Law was sent to Rome - away from the US justice system - and rewarded for his loyalty to the instution by being given a very presigious Cathedral as well as important jobs in the Curia. He lived in grand style in a large apartment, with a car and driver, and three nuns to care for his household and himself. Benedict chose Cardinal Levada to assume his own previous job at the CDF. Cardinal Levada is among the more notorious bishops when it comes to protecting pedophile priests. Nothing was done about Bishop Finn and there are dozens of more cases of bishops who protected child molesters, known to the Vatican and to Benedict, both as Ratzinger and as pope, who were in turn permitted by Rome to continue in their jobs. Benedict had no such difficulties when it came to removing bishops involved with other "crimes" One was Bishop Morris who suggested publicly that the church reconsider mandatory celibacy and opening Holy Orders to women. Money is important to Rome, and Benedict also forced out several bishops who appeared to be using diocesan funds for personal gain. Bishops who protected sexual abusers got a pass or even a promotion.
William Rydberg
3 years 4 months ago
I understand that this break-away group seems to have had no canonical status (no oversight) but were given free reign by the Archdiocese. Talk about asking for trouble. I would be interested to hear from a person that objects to Visitations in general think. Or do they view this case as exceptional. Why?

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