President “apologises” for any offence caused by remarks on child sex abuse within Catholic Church
Image: José Coelho/ Lusa

President “apologises” for any offence caused by remarks on child sex abuse within Catholic Church

Comments unleashed torrent of indignation

President Marcelo has apologised today for any offence his remarks on child sex abuse within the Catholic Church may have caused.

“My intention was not to offend the victims. If I did, I apologise”, said Portugal’s head of State, whose remarks unleashed a torrent of indignation, but really do appear to have been ‘taken the wrong way’.

The alacrity with which people ‘take offence’ – forcing apologies or acts of contrition – is a mark of the times. The president had explained exactly what he meant by saying that the 424 complaints registered by the panel investigating child sex abuse within the Church over the last 50 years “didn’t seem that many”.

What he meant was that it was almost certain that MORE children suffered abuse in the past.

But opposition politicians were ‘outraged’ by the comments, made freely to journalists almost ‘in passing’ – a habit Marcelo has developed. He almost never ‘refuses to answer a question’.

This time the answer he gave did not satisfy ‘popular opinion’. 

Prime minister António Costa has already spoken in defence of Marcelo saying he himself understood perfectly what the president meant. Others had made an “unacceptable interpretation” of his words.

But, in the way ‘little details’ often get inflated way beyond their importance, offence was indeed taken, in spades, and amplified by the media.

Today, Marcelo sought to bring an end to the brouhaha by ‘apologising’ as he attended a conference in Lisbon with the rather ominous title “Towards a New World Order?”

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com