Portuguese bishops to set up a national committee in response to abuse allegations

The Catholic Church in Portugal is setting up a national committee to coordinate the work of local church groups looking into possible cases of child sex abuse by members of the clergy. This action comes after a devasting report revealed the depth of child sex abuse within the French Catholic Church. That study, released by an independent commission, estimated that some 330,000 children and adults were sexually abused over 70 years by priests or other Church-related figures.

We applaud this development, although a truly independent investigation by secular officials would be ideal. Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland all launched their own nationwide probes into crimes committed against their children and the vulnerable by Catholic clergy. It is long past time for other countries around the world to do the same, including the United States.

Just two years ago, Portuguese Church officials said authorities had investigated only about a dozen allegations of sexual abuse involving Portuguese priests since 2001. More than half of those cases were dropped because Church investigators decided there was not enough evidence to pursue them.

While we hope that this new development will shine a light through the dark clouds of sexual abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church, we cannot forget the far-reaching efforts Church officials have taken to minimize this ongoing problem. 

CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, Communication Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]  Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President (814-341-8386, [email protected])

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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