Pope Francis was not expected to take questions that were not related to his speech in Strasbourg on Tuesday, when he appeared before the European Parliament to talk about economic and social issues. But on the return flight to Rome, he accepted a question from journalists about an ongoing investigation in Granada, Spain involving an alleged ring of pedophile priests, who have been accused of sexual abuse.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio confirmed to reporters that he had personally received a letter from an alleged victim, now aged 24, in which the young man claimed to have been subjected to continuous abuse when he was a minor. The pope also said he had set the investigation into the allegations in motion.
“I received the letter,” the pope explained. “I read it, I called up the person, and I said to him, ‘Go and see the bishop tomorrow.’ I wrote to the bishop so that the job would get started, so that he would carry out an investigation.”
Bergoglio, who committed to putting an end to abuse in the Catholic Church as soon as he became pope, admitted that the subject was causing him a lot of concern. “How am I dealing with this? With great pain, huge pain,” he continued. “But the truth is the truth, and we mustn’t hide it.”
The Granada case took another step forward after an alleged witness to the sexual abuses against minors filed a new complaint in court on Monday. The investigating judge will have to decide whether to include this complaint in the overall case.
Meanwhile, the four men arrested so far in the investigation – three priests and a layperson – remain behind bars and are waiting to be arraigned.