Spanish judge charges 10 Catholic priests with child sexual abuse

Archbishop of Granada Francisco Javier Martinez and priests prostrate in front of the altar to seek pardon for sexual abuse in the Church at the cathedral in Granada, southern Spain on November 23, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS
Archbishop of Granada Francisco Javier Martinez and priests prostrate in front of the altar to seek pardon for sexual abuse in the Church at the cathedral in Granada, southern Spain on November 23, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (REUTERS) - Ten Spanish priests were charged with child sexual abuse on Tuesday, in a case brought after Pope Francis telephoned the victim to offer the Church's apology, court documents showed.

The victim, now 24, wrote to the pope to say he had been molested when he was an altar boy. The pope called the man in August to apologise, Spanish news site Religion Digital reported in November, a report later confirmed by the pope himself.

A person (left), believed to be one of the four arrested in a child sexual abuse case, sits in a police car after leaving a police station in Granada, southern Spain on Nov 24 last year. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

The pope said in November that he had ordered a church investigation. The Archbishop of Granada, Francisco Javier Martinez, removed several priests linked to the case from their duties.

The victim said the abuse had happened over a period of years from when he was 14 to the age of 17 in a house rented by the abusers in a suburb of Granada, the court said.

Pope Francis has promised a policy of zero tolerance for sexual abuse of children by clerics after church scandals in several countries over many years. Groups representing victims say he has still not done enough.

The Vatican said last year it had defrocked about 850 priests between 2004 and 2013 who had been accused of sexually abusing minors.