Following an independent inquiry into child sex abuse in Spain's Catholic Church, the president of the country's bishops' conference has issued an apology.
The figures released last Friday by the Spanish ombudsman were devastating for the Catholic Church.
More than 200,000 minors may have been sexually abused by the clergy in Spain, according to an estimate by the Independent Commission of Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.
After the data was published, the country's bishops convened an extraordinary assembly and this Tuesday they held a press conference to assess the report.
They expressed their "sorrow for the damage caused by some members of the Church", apologised to the victims and considered the document's recommendations "valuable".
However, they have made small nuances. The bishops are willing to participate in the fund proposed by the Ombudsman to compensate victims of abuse, but "only if it is done for all victims" and not just those who suffered abuse within the Church.
"I reiterate our apologies to the victims of this pain. We also want to work for the integral reparation of the victims and to make progress in the protection and prevention of abuse," said the president of the Spanish Bishops' Conference, Juan José Omella.
"But if only (the abuses committed by the Church) are taken into account, 90% would be excluded and would not receive reparation," he added.
‘It's a problem for the whole of society’
There were three days of silence between the presentation of the ombudsman's report and the Church's statement.
The bishops' meeting to evaluate the shocking figures was long. It lasted six hours, and there were many internal divisions, according to the newspaper El País.
Until two years ago, the Spanish Church continued to deny the existence of these cases.
The report, which publishes new data, includes the results of a survey in which 1.13% of Spaniards of legal age say they have suffered religious abuse and 0.6% by a priest or religious.
"This figure is a lie," said the President of the Bishops' Conference.
He added that the extrapolation of the number of victims was "surprising" and said it "does not correspond to the truth".
The ombudsman commissioned the survey from GAD3, a social research and communications consultancy, which interviewed more than 8,000 people aged between 18 and 90 living in Spain.
The results show that 11.7% of the Spanish population have been abused and 1.13% of them in the Church.
"We don't know how the survey was conducted. There is opacity. And we don't see the conclusion clearly. Everyone knows that this is not the case," said the President of the Bishops' Conference.
"We have to say we think this is an outrage. At the end of the day, numbers do not get us anywhere. The important thing is the people and to make amends as far as possible. That is the attitude. Blaming is not the way. The problem does not belong to the Church, it belongs to society as a whole," he added.
Unlike other European countries, Spain had never commissioned an investigation into church abuse.
In March 2002, Congress set up a commission of experts to "shed light" on the "atrocious personal acts committed against defenceless children" within the Spanish Church. They entrusted the ombudsman with leading this commission.