Portugal commission reveals ‘full extent’ of church abuse

By Jonathan Luxmoore

LISBON, Portugal (OSV News) — A final report of the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse of Children in the Catholic Church in Portugal revealed more than 4,800 children had been victims of clergy sexual abuse in the country from 1950 to 2022.

Responding to the report, the president of the Portuguese bishops’ conference, Bishop José Ornelas Carvalho of Leiria-Fatima, apologized to the victims and thanked the church-sponsored commission for highlighting the abuse by Catholic clergy. He also pledged that surviving perpetrators would be removed from office.

“Zero tolerance toward abuse has to be a reality throughout the church — we will not tolerate abuses or abusers,” Bishop Ornelas said. “This is an open wound that hurts and shames us, and we ask forgiveness from all the victims — those who courageously gave testimony, silent for so many years, and those still living with pain in the depths of their hearts.”

The report was presented Feb. 13 at Lisbon’s Catholic University. The 500-page report called for a new institution to continue monitoring abuse in the church, as well as for improved “training protocols” at Catholic seminaries. However, it also warned that past church responses had been “characterized by denial,” and said no action had been taken to remove accused clergy in two-thirds of reported cases, leaving victims “in a situation of helplessness.”

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