Members of the Catholic Church in Portugal have abused 4,815 minors since 1950


The independent commission investigating cases of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Portugal has concluded that at least 4,815 children have been molested by members of the institution since 1950. The final report of the case was presented publicly this Monday morning (13). , in Lisbon.

The cases, which peaked between the 1960s and 1990s, occurred in a variety of contexts, such as: B. seminaries, sacristy, boarding schools, confessionals, scout groups and accommodation associated with the church. About 96% of the perpetrators are male and 77% are priests.

There were records in all districts of the country. The average age of the minors is 11.2 years and the main targets of sexual assault were boys 52.7% of the cases as in most investigations of this type. However, the Commission highlights the significant number of girls who were also abused.

In 52.7% of cases, minors were abused more than once and 27.5% reported that the crimes lasted more than a year. Most of the episodes have expired, but 25 cases were still referred to prosecutors within the legal time limits.

The conclusions presented in the report will be discussed at a special meeting of the Catholic summit in the country, which will also assess whether compensation will be paid to the victims. In France, where an independent investigation found more than 200,000 children and young people had been abused over a 70year period, the church agreed to sell property and property to pay compensation.

In Portugal, the Commission was created at the request of the CEP (Portuguese Bishops’ Conference), right amidst the wave of child sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church in several countries.

Before starting the public presentation of the conclusions, the Commission’s coordinator, child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, thanked for the “freedom and complete independence” in carrying out the work.

In addition to collecting reports through a telephone line and a website dedicated to the investigation, the commission analyzed documents in the diocesan archives. Of the reported cases, 512 were validated. Due to the delay in accessing part of the collection, not all documents could be analyzed.

At the conference, commissioners took turns providing numbers and technical data in the report and reading some of the victims’ accounts. “When I told my mother, she didn’t believe it. Worse still, she said I was guilty,” read one of the reports.

It took victims an average of 10 years to speak up about abuse for the first time. More than 40% of them were the first to report to the independent commission. Only 4% filed legal claims.

“The fundamental characteristic of abuse is the power that the abuser has over the child,” said psychiatrist Daniel Sampaio, also a member of the body. “In religious institutions, the child’s vulnerability is revealed, reinforced by a spiritual belief. Therefore, the spiritual relationship between the abuser and the child makes the child more vulnerable.”

In the filing, the independent commission called for changes to the statute of limitations. In Portugal, current law provides that victims of sexual abuse as minors up to the age of 23 must lodge a formal complaint. Experts called for the term to be extended to 30 years.