Portuguese Church highlights problems in abuse panel report – UCA News

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Catholic bishops reiterate new safeguarding commitments in line with the independent commission on clergy abuse.

Portuguese Church highlights problems in abuse panel report

A church is pictured in Lisbon on Feb. 13. (Photo: AFP)

By Jonathan Luxmoore, OSV News

Published: March 18, 2023 04:56 AM GMT

Portugal’s Catholic Church has reiterated new safeguarding commitments in line with an independent commission on sexual abuse by clergy, although most of its dioceses also reported inconsistencies in the commission’s findings.

“We renew our gratitude for the work carried out, which has made it possible to cross reference information between victim testimonies and data from our archives,” the Portuguese bishops’ permanent council said March 14.

“We value public scrutiny and are fully available to walk with society in eradicating the drama of abuse against minors, permanently supporting victims and judging aggressors. We regret that, given the subject’s complexity, we have not always communicated our intentions clearly,” it said.

The council issued the statement after meeting at the Marian shrine of Fatima to debate responses to a list of names of suspected abusers submitted to the church.

It said an autonomous group of trusted figures would be set up to work with existing diocesan protection committees, adding that bishops’ conference guidelines on abuse also would be updated and steps taken against named abusers.

However, a church expert said problems had been identified with the names submitted by the independent commission, as well as with its reliance on anonymous testimonies.

“While the church’s canon law has been amended to allow victims to present their cases anonymously, this poses an obstacle under civil law,” Octávio Carmo, chief editor of the Portuguese Church’s Ecclesia information agency, told OSV News March 16.

“Some sections of the Catholic community also think anonymous allegations shouldn’t be acted on, and it seems the victims will at some point have to present themselves — without this, I can’t see how the dioceses can take canonical action, unless those accused admit their guilt.”

The Independent Commission for Studying Sexual Abuse of Children in the Catholic Church, headed by Pedro Strecht, presented a 500-page report Feb. 13, noting it had validated 512 testimonies of abuse submitted Jauary 2022 to October 2022 and would submit a list of still-living clerical abusers to judicial authorities and the Catholic Church.


Portuguese Church highlights problems in abuse panel report – UCA News

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