Portuguese Catholic Church asks for forgiveness from pedocrime victims

A group of independent experts has established that at least 4,815 minors had been victims of sexual violence in a religious context since 1950. Violence hidden by the “systemic” Church hierarchy.

mo12345lemonde with AFP

Gathered in the sanctuary city of Fatima to decide the measures to be taken following the shock caused by the publication of an independent report on the extent of sexual violence committed by members of the clergy against minors, the Portuguese bishops published a press release on Friday March 3.

“It is with pain that once we ask for forgiveness from all the victims of sexual assault within the Catholic Church in Portugal”, writes the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP) in this text.

“Total battle” against pedophilia within the church

A “public gesture” expressing this request for forgiveness will be organized in Fatima in April, and a memorial will be created on the occasion of the World Youth Days, which will bring together a multitude of young Catholics in Lisbon in early August . Expected in the Portuguese capital on this occasion, the sovereign pontiff could meet victims, recently announced the auxiliary bishop of Lisbon, Americo Aguiar, in charge of the organization of this world meeting.

The Portuguese bishops had promised to take “concrete measures” in response to the conclusions of an independent commission which they had appointed in late 2021 to shed light on the phenomenon of pedocrime within the Church.

After having collected more than 500 testimonies in the space of a year, this group of independent experts established that at least 4,815 minors had been victims of sexual violence in a religious context since 1950. These violence have been hidden by the hierarchy of the Church in a “systemic” way, they added in their conclusions.

“We ask forgiveness from all the victims”, had reacted immediately after the publication of the report, the president of CEP, the bishop of Leiria-Fatima, José Ornelas.

Faced with thousands of cases of sexual violence involving priests uncovered in the world and accusations of concealment by members of the clergy, Pope Francis promised in 2019 to fight a “total battle” against pedophilia within church.

“Faced with abuses, and especially those committed by members of the Church, it is not enough to ask for forgiveness,” said the pope in a message broadcast Thursday on Twitter.

/Media reports cited above.