Concerning Figures

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Hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been abused by Spain’s Catholic clergy and lay people, according to a government-initiated probe, the first to investigate the allegations of sex abuses perpetrated by members of the Catholic Church in the country, Voice of America reported.

The country’s ombudsman, Angel Gabilondo, released a nearly 800-page report this month, where he criticized the Church’s role in minimizing and denying reports of abuse.

The findings were drawn from a survey based on 8,000 telephone and online responses. The report found that 1.13 percent of Spanish adults questioned were abused as children by members of the Church.

With Spain’s population of nearly 39 million, the survey suggested that around 440,000 minors could have been sexually abused by priests, members of religious orders, or lay members in recent decades, according to the Associated Press.

Gabilondo noted that while the Catholic Church has taken steps to address the abuse and undo efforts to cover up scandals, they have not been sufficient.

He urged for the creation of a state fund to compensate the victims, as well as for the Church to provide a way to assist them in their recovery and introduce reforms to prevent abuse.

The report came more than a year after Spanish lawmakers voted to initiate a probe into sexual abuse allegations committed by Church members. The move came after Spanish newspaper El País published abuse allegations involving more than 1,200 victims, provoking public outrage.

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez welcomed the findings as a “milestone” for Spain’s democracy.

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