An independent commission’s study, which was made public on Monday, found that more than 4,800 children in Portugal’s Catholic Church had experienced sexual abuse over the course of the previous seven decades.
Based on 512 specific complaints, the horrifying report was produced. Pedro Strecht, a child psychiatrist who serves as the commission’s coordinator, believes that there may be far more victims.
According to the report, Strecht stated, “The highest percentage of victims distance themselves from the Church as an institution and from religious practice after the abuse, and this position persists across generations.”
The dossier presented to the Portuguese Episcopal Conference contains a number of horrifying figures, such as the average age of the victims at the start of the abuse, which was just 11.2 years old.
By the end of the month, the Church promised to publish a list of abusers who are still active.
The most prevalent districts are Leiria, Lisbon, Porto, Braga, and Santarém. Additionally, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has received about 25 complaints.
Most cases have passed their expiration date.
The study examines incidents dating back to 1950 and includes victims who are currently between the ages of 15 and 88. The courts can no longer pursue some of these cases because of their age.
Bishop Jose Ornelas will preside over a plenary meeting of the Bishops’ Conference on March 3 to discuss the ramifications of that report, which spans seven decades.
The committee was established in the end of 2021, and its mission statement was “giving voice to silence.”
The committee comprises non-Church members like a former justice minister, a sociologist, and a social worker.
The commission received almost one hundred complaints in just the first week of operation in January. They had already received more than 400 complaints by October.
Abuse cases number over 300,000 in Spain.
The Portuguese retrospective investigation was triggered by an open letter with hundreds of Catholic signatures.
It comes after a similar scandal involving the French Catholic Church, in which over 300,000 incidents were documented using the same technique: extrapolating statistical data from direct denunciations.
A report on the compensation plans put forth for some victims was recently published by the channel France 2.
According to reports, the church offered the victims excursions to Venice or the cost of their medical care.
Even when the Catholic Church repeatedly apologized, the abuse had a significant impact on society, changing its earlier position that the crimes were “isolated” acts.
The Catholic hierarchy’s cover-up of instances, which was mentioned in several of the testimony given in Portugal, would be one of the difficult chapters to handle.
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