Spain’s Supreme Court upholds priest’s sex abuse conviction

Spain’s Supreme Court upholds priest’s sex abuse conviction

Child psychologist and founding member of the Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA) organization, Miguel Hurtado from Spain, center, shows an open letter to the Benedictine order before delivering it, outside the St. Anselm on the Aventine Benedictine complex in Rome on the second day of a summit called by Pope Francis at the Vatican on sex abuse in the Catholic Church, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (Credit: AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis.)

Spain's Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a Catholic priest for the sexual abuse of two 12-year-old boys.

LISBON, Portugal — Spain’s Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a priest for the sexual abuse of two 12-year-old boys and confirmed a lower court’s sentence of 17 years and seven months in prison.

A Supreme Court statement issued Wednesday said the judges also rejected an appeal by the Romanian parents of one of the boys. They lived with the priest, Jose Fernandez, and were found guilty of consenting to his abuse of their son and sentenced to four years in prison.

The other victim was an altar boy at the priest’s church in Badajoz, in southwestern Spain.

The Supreme Court said it was proven that Fernandez committed the crimes in 2013 and 2014. A Badajoz court found the defendants guilty, but they appealed to the higher court.

Last November, the president of the Spanish bishops’ conference said that Spain’s Catholic Church wants to “eradicate” cases of sexual abuse of minors within the church and not cover them up.

“The Church openly recognizes cases of abuse of different nature and has taken the firm decision to eradicate them,” Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Valladolid, president of the Spanish bishops’ conference told a gathering of bishops in Madrid.

“Abuse should not be covered up nor should it be met with the wrong answer,” he added.

Earlier, a spokesman for the bishops’ conference acknowledged that the Spanish Church had maintained a “complicit silence” regarding abuse cases within a wider context of “inaction by all of Spanish society”, according to local media reports.

Crux staff also contributed to this report.

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