Child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church: complaints surge… again
Image harking back to opening of commission's inquiry in January. Pedro Stretcht in centre

Child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church: complaints surge… again

Independent commission presents its ‘nine month report’ today

Tabloid Correio da Manhã reports that complaints about child sex abuse within the Portuguese Catholic Church registered a new surge in the last few weeks, after a “period of some calm”.

The understanding is that cases highlighted in the press over the summer, and under investigation by the Public Ministry, have “given some people the courage to advance with complaints” that previously they had kept to themselves.

The Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse against Children in the Portuguese church has met at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon today to report on the ground covered over the last three months.

Coordinator Pedro Strecht said that testimonies have been received so far by 432 alleged victims or witnesses. 

He confirmed also that “in most cases” the statute of limitations applies to any crimes committed.

But he warned that the real number of victims “will be much higher” than those that havecome forwards, and that abuses include “all the forms described in Portuguese law”.

This independent commission – set up last year by the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, amid pressure from civil society – is said to have shocked many churchgoers, and it has certainly made the lives of senior clergy very difficult.

Correio da Manhã has said that church attendances have reduced since the scandals started being so regularly exposed.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com