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Human RightsPortuguese Catholic Church investigates Sexual Abuse against Children

Portuguese Catholic Church investigates Sexual Abuse against Children

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João Ruy Faustino
João Ruy Faustino
João Ruy is a Portuguese freelancer who writes about European political actuality for The European Times. He is also a contributor for Revista BANG! and a former writer for Central Comics and Bandas Desenhadas.

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Give voice to silence – Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse against Children in the Portuguese Catholic Church

On November 2021, the Portuguese Episcopal Conference decided to conduct a study about sexual abuse cases against children from 0 to 18 years old inside the Portuguese Catholic Church. 

This commission will examine cases from 1950 to 2022 to find testimonies of child sexual abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church. The Commission recognizes the “wave of indignation” in Portugal and several other countries, calling for not only an investigation into these crimes but also for greater support for the people affected by the misconduct of several clergymen. In the Commission letter of intent, Pedro Strecht a psychiatrist who is the coordinator of the project, says:

“(…) driven by the search for historical truth, about what could have happened to countless minors in the field of sexual abuse in different contexts of society, especially within the Catholic Church itself, in a vision that its own top representative, His Holiness Pope Francis, has successively asked to be the object of unequivocal clarification, in an attitude of absolute recognition of the existence of these crimes (…)”

Any person that has suffered abuse can contact the Commission and give their testimony, “counting from the outset on the team’s professional secrecy and the guarantee of their anonymity”. The testimony can be made through an online questionnaire or via phone call.

The Commission is totally independent and autonomous from “any external force”, but  thanks “the Portuguese Catholic Church, namely D. José Ornelas, President of the Episcopal Conference, who, following the guidelines dictated by His Holiness Pope Francis, has placed complete trust in the constitution of this team, as well as the availability to provide the necessary means for the work with impartiality and independence, which is why we all accept to be part of the risk of this tremendous challenge.”

The project will last a year. It started in January 2022, and it will cease its investigation in December 2022. The Commission aims to prepare and present a report that will be “a broad contribution to the future consolidation of the promotion and protection of all minors, as described in the Universal Convention on the Rights of the Child”.

The Commission announced in February that it received 214 valid testimonies during its first month of activity.

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