The Ombudsman, Ángel Gabilondo, made public on October 27 the Report on sexual abuse in the area of the Catholic Church and the role of public powers, which has the motto “A necessary response.” The 779-page document generated an important social and media impact. La Vanguardia reported this in its digital and printed edition, which opened the cover with the headline “The Ombudsman estimates that there are more than 400,000 victims of abuse in the Church.” Both the website and the paper newspaper picked up the reply the following day by Cardinal Juan José Omella, president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, describing the figure (also published by other major media) as an intentional “lie.”
Several readers and subscribers have written to me questioning, like Omella, the validity of that figure and requesting a rectification. In the messages received, it is emphasized that the data does not appear in the report, which, on the other hand, states that “it has not been part of its mission to calculate the number of people affected by sexual abuse in the area of the Catholic Church.” .
Where does the figure of more than 400,000 people come from if it was not in the report? As explained in the published news, this is a projection based on a survey of 8,013 citizens that is part of the report, which indicates that 1.13% of the Spanish population would have suffered abuse in the field. religious. Given a population of 47 million, that percentage would show the published data. Aware of this calculation, however, readers object that surveys are not exact sciences, but are subject to a margin of error.
Was it a mistake, then, to convert that percentage into a figure? The Ombudsman's report stated that the objective of the survey was to seek “a solid empirical basis” to “determine the prevalence of the phenomenon” and know its “dimension,” and that is what the newspaper proposed based on the available data. .
An objective that in no way clouds the newspaper's deep respect (with special pages on Sundays) for all religious beliefs, their representatives and faithful, and its special attention to the Christian faith, the majority in our country.