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They estimate that more than 100 priests suspected of sexual abuse continue to give Mass in Portugal

They are calculations of the commission that studied pedophilia in the Catholic Church of that country. One report revealed almost 5,000 cases since 1950.

The commission that studies the dimension of the saga of pedophilia in the Catholic Church of Portugal it estimates that there are more than 100 active priests suspected of having abused minors in that country. They will be notified to the Prosecutor’s Office in the coming weeks, and to the Portuguese Episcopal Conference.

The data comes after the presentation of a report that revealed that members of the Portuguese Catholic clergy sexually abused at least 4,815 minors since 1950. The document was the result of a year of investigation, with the testimony of hundreds of victims.

“These testimonies allow us to establish a much broader network of victims, of at least 4,815,” said child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht at the presentation of the report.

The investigation was commissioned in 2021 by the church in Portugal, after similar -alarming- reports were disseminated in other countries, such as France.

The head of the Episcopal Conference of Portugal, Bishop José Ornelas, at the presentation of the report on sexual abuse, this Monday in Lisbon. Photo: AP

On Monday night, in an interview with the SIC Notícias channel, Strecht referred to the number of priests who are still active in Portugal and are now among those reported for sexual abuse.

The number is “clearly more than a hundred”, assured the coordinator of the commission that investigated the cases of pedophilia in Portugal.

Strecht explained that this figure is the result of adding the victims’ complaints, cross-reference testimonies and cases collected in the diocesan archives (some of them not previously communicated to the commission).

According to their data, this number remains at levels similar to what studies from other countries reflect, which indicate that they could be “2 to 4% of the active population of the entire religious community of a country.”

The names

The list with their names, prepared after a year of research, will be sent in the coming weeks. to the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP) and the Portuguese Prosecutor’s Office so that they can take action.

“Only the real distance in physical space will work,” since “within the psychopathological profile, there is an obvious tendency to perpetuate crimes,” Strecht stressed.

The expert made these statements hours after the commission revealed that in Portugal there are a “minimum” 4,815 minors who have been sexually abused by members of the Catholic Church in the last 72 years and warned that “it is not possible to quantify the total number of crimes “.

Pedro Strecht, coordinator of the commission that revealed the harsh history of sexual abuse in the church in Portugal.  Photo: AFP

Pedro Strecht, coordinator of the commission that revealed the harsh history of sexual abuse in the church in Portugal. Photo: AFP

During the interview, Strecht, who is also a child psychiatrist, argued that he does not believe that “the hierarchies of the Catholic Church repeat the mistakes of the past” at a time when abuse cannot be denied.

“It’s no longer worth saying it didn’t happen. It happened in an intense and dramatic way,” Strecht reiterated, who recalled that it cannot be seen as “a problem that existed in the past.”

The report of the commission -created by the CEP and made up of six members including psychologists, sociologists, lawyers and even a filmmaker- shows that a quarter of victims were abused from the 1990s to the present.

For this reason, the task force suggested that a new permanent team of experts be created to give monitoring of victims and serve as “a communication channel”, insisted Strecht, who also stressed the importance of the adult population being informed about this problem in order to prevent these crimes and educate the youngest about the limits of privacy.

The experts also called for the lengthening of the age limit for a person to report these crimes to the Justice in Portugal, due to the average time that victims need to report it.

raw report

The members of the commission of experts exposed on Monday for two hours, in a crude and detailed way, the teachings of the 512 testimonials validated but also from their investigations in the church archives and from their interviews with their senior managers in the hierarchy.

“The report published today reveals a harsh and tragic reality. We nevertheless believe that change is underway,” the president of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP), Bishop José Ornelas of Leiria-Fátima, said on Monday.

“We apologize to all the victims,” ​​he added, referring to an “open wound that (…) shames us,” after attending the presentation of the report.

Most of the reported crimes have expired, but 25 accusations were transmitted to the judicial authorities, which opened investigations.

Source: EFE


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