Portuguese Panel Investigating Church Sexual Abuses Warn of More after Receiving Almost 300 Testimonies

A public committee investigating child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church received witness testimonies from 290 purported victims, involving children as young as two years old.

The six-person committee which includes psychiatrists, a former Supreme Court judge, and a social worker, began its investigation in January.

The committee which bears the slogan “Giving voice to silence” (“Dar Voz ao Silêncio”), announced its formation during the last bishops’ Plenary Assembly in November and follows the release of the CIASE Report on sexual abuse in the Church in France.

According to Pedro Strecht, a psychiatrist who oversees the Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Church, more than half of the previously recorded cases indicate that many more victims were involved.

The reported instances occurred when the children were involved with the church, including affiliated organizations like Boy Scouts and Catechism study groups, with males taking up the majority of the claimed victims.

Testimonies continue to be collected, and span more than 70 years, from 1950 to 2022, with the youngest victim of abuse born in 2009.

“We want to know more about this reality and its extent, and most importantly about the personal dramas behind it, offering the people who have suffered abuse, the possibility of having their voices heard and justice. We have embarked on this journey for these people who are the reason for being of this Commission.” said the President of the Portuguese bishops’, Bishop José Ornelas Carvalho of Setúbal.


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