A Vatican source has confirmed to CNA that Pope Francis called a 24-year-old man in Spain who alleges he was the victim of sexual abuse a decade ago in the city of Granada. According to the Vatican official, the Holy Father called the man to voice his solidarity with him and “encouraged him to file charges against the guilty because (Francis) really wants to end the scandal of pedophilia.” The alleged sexual abuse took place approximately a decade ago, when the alleged victim was an adolescent. The now 24-year-old man recently filed a lawsuit against the priests. Earlier this week, the Archdiocese of Granada released a statement emphasizing that the allegations had been dealt with immediately. “From the moment credible reports of the accusations were filed before the Holy See by a young man from Granada alleging sexual abuse by a group of priests of the diocese, this archdiocese has scrupulously followed the procedures established by canonical discipline for these cases, which is available to all on the home page of the Holy See’s own website,” the archdiocese said. “Once it was learned the lawsuit had been filed, the archbishop made himself available to civil authorities to collaborate in whatever way necessary, which he has done up to now,” it continued. The case has led Archbishop Javier Martinez of Granada to issue a statement announcing that three priests related to the charges have been suspended from ministry. In response to reports in the media that he did not act soon enough in the case, the archbishop told reporters in Madrid last month that the alleged victim asked him for a pause in ecclesial action against the priests in order to allow civil authorities to proceed with their case. He said civil authorities made the same request. According to Europa Press, Archbishop Martinez Fernandez explained that he learned of the charges of abuse in mid-August, not from the Holy See but from a letter the young man sent to the archdiocese in which he said he had written to Pope Francis. The archbishop said he then called the young man and spoke with him on the phone for two hours. He told reporters that when the Holy See sent him a letter informing him that it had received the young man’s accusations, he had already met with the alleged victim and had purchased him a ticket to fly to Rome. Archbishop Martinez Fernandez said Pope Francis did not speak directly with him. Commenting on the fact that the victim contacted the Vatican directly and did not speak first with the Archdiocese of Granada, Archbishop Martinez Fernandez said that his biggest concern is not for himself, but for the damage that may have been done to the young man. If the accusations are true, the archbishop said, “it causes me great sorrow, because there is no greater hurt than for someone who has chosen the mission of caring for others to abuse their trust, again, if this was the case. That is something that both canonical and civil authorities will have to determine.”
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