Three priests and a layperson where arrested in Spain after Pope Francis encouraged an abuse victim to take his case to authorities.
The victim, a 24 year old, male, Opus Dei supernumerary, wrote to Pope Francis after hearing the pontiff statements about zero tolerance for abusers and people who cover up abuse. Upon reading the letter Pope Francis called the man, apologized for the abuse and told him “tomorrow you go to the bishop.”
Pope Francis followed up on that conversation by writing directly to the Archbishop of Granada, instructing him to begin an investigation into the priests named by the victim.
In a statement posted on the archdiocese’s website, the Archbishop of Granada “scrupulously followed” church law and opened a canonical investigation into the allegations. The three priests in question were also immediately removed from ministry.
The archdiocese’s statement also says once the victim took his allegations to police the archdiocese agreed to comply with the police investigation. According to the archdiocese, it could not forward the matter to police on behalf of the victim because the victim is now an adult. As such the victim was only person entitled to take the matter to police.
Spanish media have reported that the pope called the victim a second time, encouraging him to go to police. The Vatican has not confirmed that this second phone call occurred.
As a result of the police investigation into the allegations, three priests and one layperson were arrested. The lay person was religion teacher. That person’s teaching authorization has since been removed by the Archdiocese of Granada.
The Spanish newspaper ABC reported that at least one more victim has come forward to police with allegations of abuse related to the priests in question.
Pope Francis was asked about the case during a press conference on Tuesday that was held while he was flying back to Rome from Strasbourg. The pope said he received the news of the allegations "with great pain" adding "but the truth is the truth and we cannot hide it."