Catholic Bishops of Bolivia Create a National Listening Commission and a National Investigation Commission to Prevent Abuse

The Catholic Church creates a National Listening Commission and a National Investigation Commission

CEB Press 05.24.23.- Today the bishops of Bolivia announced the creation of a National Listening Commission and a National Investigation Commission to determine responsibilities and make visible what happened in cases of sexual abuse. Simultaneously, they commit to work to prevent and provide families with the certainty that children and young people will be safe in Church environments.

In relation to the recent visit of Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu Farnós, Official of the Department for the Doctrine of the Faith and specialist in issues of sexual abuse, the Bishops of Bolivia issued a public statement read by the Secretary General of the Bolivian Episcopal Conference, Mgr Giovani Arana, who was accompanied by María Beysabel Espinoza, head of the Family Ministry of the CEB.

In the statement, the bishops address the victims, their families and the ecclesial community, acknowledging that instead of receiving the protection and care they deserved, "they found themselves with a Church deaf to their sufferings." The Bishops of Bolivia emphasized that sexual abuse goes against the very essence of the Church, which should unite with the crucified to offer comfort to the most vulnerable in society.

The Bishops undertake to do everything possible to accompany and seek reparation for the victims, with the support of professionals specialized in assisting and healing wounds and scars. In addition, they emphasize that the problem of sexual abuse is a social phenomenon that occurs throughout the world and in various settings, such as the home, school, and ecclesial spaces.

The Bolivian Episcopal Conference highlights that they have been working on two fundamental issues in recent years: prevention, to create safe environments in which children and young people can carry out their activities without fear of being harmed, and actions aimed at punishing crimes that have been committed, seeking the justice that is sorely needed by the victims of abuse.

However, the Bishops recognize that the efforts made so far, such as the creation of protocols, codes of conduct and the training of pastoral agents to attend to and listen to complaints, are insufficient. For this reason, they have decided to create a National Listening Commission and a National Investigation Commission, whose objective will be to determine responsibilities and make visible what happened. At the same time, work will be done on prevention to guarantee the safety of children and young people in the spaces of the Church.

In addition, they undertake to transparently communicate to public opinion the progress that is being made.

The bishops reiterate their commitment to the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Police and the Judiciary, to assist with the investigations that are carried out to clarify the facts and the transparent administration of justice.