A solicitor running an internal Catholic Church probe into sex abuse says he’s received news about hundreds of previously unreported cases since starting his inquiry in February.
Javier Cremades and his law firm are running an investigation on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference.
Cremades, who is also president of the World Jurist Association, is looking into thousands of suspected cases.
The El País newspaper conducted a three-year investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Spain and uncovered 251 unpublished cases of abuse dating back 80 years.
The paper last December revealed an estimated 1,246 abuse victims.
Speaking to the Europa Press, Javier Cremades said: “Between those that the bishops’ conference has and those that El País has, we are talking about approximately between 1,000 and 2,000 cases.”
“We are now sorting out and classifying those that have reached us,” he added.
Cardinal Juan José Omella of Barcelona, president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference said in January that the conference had no plans to conduct a nationwide investigation of the handling of cases past and present.
A quick change of mind followed a major outcry with Cremades brought in to lead a year-long probe.
Cremades said: “Identifying the volume, the number of cases, the extent of the phenomenon is not going to be easy, because many victims have not reported, they remain silent, and we understand them, too.”
He added that the number of cases he is investigating so far does ‘not respond to the reality of the problem’.
The solicitor also praised the ‘great collaboration’ of the Catholic Church and revealed that the Archdiocese of Madrid has given him permission to access its secret archives.
Cremades said he hopes to publish his findings in 2023 which will include not only cases of sexual abuse against children by clergy but also those committed by lay employees in churches, shrines and schools.