Sexual Abuse: More than 4,800 victims uncovered in Portugal’s Catholic Church

Sexual abuse in Catholic church
Pedro Strecht, president of the commission. Image: Luiz Barra.

An independent tribunal examining sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church claimed there were at least 4,815 victims.

The commission, which was convened by the Portuguese Episcopal Conference to investigate abuse over the last several decades, stated that the numbers they had seen thus far were merely the beginning.

Dr. Pedro Strecht, a child psychiatrist and commission president, delivered the results stating that the objective was to “give voice to the silence” of victims.

He complimented the several individuals who had contacted the charity to share their tales.

Then he stated, “They have a voice and a name.”

In total, 564 claims of abuse by clergy or other members of the Church were documented by the panel. In the experiment, cases as far back as 1950 were evaluated.

Many of the victims’ accounts also alluded to the abuse of other children. This has prompted experts to conclude that there were thousands of more victims.

Mr. Strecht largely relied on testimony from abuse victims to demonstrate that this sort of conduct has disastrous repercussions. This metaphor was inspired by a victim’s depiction of life in a “black hole.”

Bishop of Leiria-Fátima and President of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference José Ornelas will address this later.

On Sunday, he expressed gratitude for the findings and stated that an emergency session would be called on March 3 to debate how to effectively offer “justice” to the victims.

25 cases have been recommended to the public prosecutors by the panel. For many, the statute of limitations had expired.

The research recommends increasing the age of criminal complaint for victims of suspected child sexual abuse from the existing 25 years to 30 years (even if the statute of limitations applies).

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