Bishops Today Announce Measures to Respond to Sexual Abuse in the Church


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The Portuguese bishops announced today the measures to be taken in response to the report on the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church, which confirmed 512 of the 564 testimonies received in ten months.

The bishops are meeting during the day in Fatima, in the plenary assembly of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP), and will present their conclusions in a press conference at 6:00 p.m. They are expected to announce the immediate actions of the Catholic hierarchy.

The Independent Commission for the Investigation of the Sexual Abuse of Children in the Catholic Church, which validated 512 of the 564 testimonies received, indicating by extrapolation a minimum number of victims of about 4,815, warned that the data “should be understood as the ‘tip of the iceberg.

Read also: Christians praying for sex abuse victims admit to ‘shame’

On the day of the report’s presentation, February 13, the president of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference (CEP), José Ornelas, acknowledged that the results could not be ignored and that the country was facing a “dramatic situation” that would be difficult to overcome.

In its report, the Independent Commission left some suggestions to the Church, namely the creation of a new commission to continue the “study and monitoring of the issue”, with members inside and outside the Church; the adoption of the “moral duty of denunciation on the part of the Church and collaboration with the Public Prosecutor’s Office” or the “effective request for forgiveness for the situations that happened in the past and their materialization”.

Read also: In Portugal, pedophile crime in the Church has claimed nearly 5,000 victims

The “continued psychological support of past, present and future victims” is also considered a responsibility of the Church, in collaboration with the National Health Service.

On Thursday, a letter signed by hundreds of Catholics also asked the Portuguese bishops for short-term measures, including the removal from office of any “cover-up” bishops.

The letter, revealed by the digital newspaper 7Margens, also calls for “all abusers currently serving in the Church” to be preventively suspended “whenever there are even the slightest credible indications of abuse” and dismissed from office if found guilty “in the light of Christian morality, regardless of any judicial process.”

The immediate creation of ways to provide psychological, psychiatric and spiritual support and assistance to victims of sexual abuse who request it, the preparation of a solemn and collective moment to ask for forgiveness, and the creation of a new independent commission to continue the work of the previous one are some of the measures that more Catholic institutions and people are proposing to the Portuguese bishops, according to 7Margens.

Source: Sapo by MadreMedia / Lusa

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