D. José Ornelas says he is not concerned by scandal (referring to the child abuse scandal that has rocked the Portuguese Catholic Church), he is concerned that these things happened. "The worse would be for me to make a mistake and continue to defend myself, and cover it up, or try to ignore it", he said.

Portugal’s bishops clear way for independent commission to investigate child sex abuse within Catholic Church

Portugal’s Catholic bishops have unanimously approved the creation of an independent commission to oversee investigations into child sex abuse committed by members of the Church. 

The commission will be made up of lay people, some of which may not even be Catholic. 

The objective will be to guide and supervise 21 dioscescan organisations created in 2019 to establish exactly what has been happening within the Church when it comes to child sex abuse over the last 50 years. 

The development comes on the back of a recent investigation that showed over 330,000 children were sexually abused by clergy and lay members of the Catholic church in France between 1950 and 2020. 

Said D. José Ornelas, bishop of Setúbal: “We are very sad and it is very upsetting having to deal with these things, like it would be for any family, but we are not afraid and we have every interest in clarifying everything”.

The decision followed a letter sent by 200 Catholics to D. José Ornelas asking for an independent investigation into sex abuses within the Church.

The 200 “manifested the scepticism they feel in relation to the low number of abuses reported in Portugal”, say reports.

Less than a dozen cases have been reported in the last decade, yet the Catholics writing to D. José Ornelas say they cannot see any sociological reasons to suggest the situation within the Portuguese church should be any different to other countries (like France…)

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