Ten Spanish priests were charged with child sex abuse by a court in the city of Granada on Tuesday in a case that came to light after Pope Francis spoke to one of the victims last year, according to media reports. The Roman Catholic priests, along with two church workers, are suspected of sexually abusing four teenage boys between 2004 and 2007.
The priests had been suspended by the Archdiocese of Granada and were arrested by police in November last year. The suspects, who face a possible prison term of 20 years each if found guilty, are currently free on bail pending trial, according to media reports.
One of the victims, now 24 years old, had worked as an altar boy when the alleged abuse took place. Later, in August last year, he had written a letter to the Pope, who urged him to report the case at the Granada diocese. The pontiff had also called up the bishop and ordered an internal investigation, according to media reports.
In April last year, Pope Francis had reportedly promised a policy of zero tolerance against sexual abuse of children by clerics and vowed to confront the “leprosy” of child sex abuse infecting the church with the "severity it demands." The Vatican had come under fire last year for attempting to cover up reports of sexual abuse after scandals erupted in churches across several countries.
The Pope had also condemned the Catholic Church for its complicity in hiding the crimes committed by its clerics and reportedly asked for forgiveness for church leaders who had failed to “respond adequately.”