‘Catholic’ shock in Portugal: Almost 5,000 children – mostly boys – sexually abused by priests in last 70 years


77% of perpetrators of abuse were priests and most victims were boys – Abused in Catholic schools, priests’ homes and confessionals

At least 4,815 minors were sexually abused by members of Portugal’s Catholic church over the past 70 years, according to the final, shocking conclusions of a nearly year-long independent commission based on more than 500 testimonies.

“These testimonies allowed us to reach a much larger network of victims, which is estimated to have had at least 4,815 victims,” ​​said expert committee coordinator, child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, during the presentation of the report.

Most of the crimes reported by the victims are time-barred, but twenty-five testimonies were handed over to the prosecution, he explained.

77% of the abusers were priests and most of the victims were boys, Strecht noted, adding that they were abused in Catholic schools, priests’ homes and confessionals, among others.

“We want to pay a sincere tribute to those who were victims of abuse during their childhood and dared to give voice to the silence,” he added. “It’s more than just a statistic,” Strecht stressed.

Complaints about the abuses came from people of different social backgrounds, coming from every province of Portugal but also from Portuguese citizens in other countries of Europe, Africa and the American continent.

The independent commission launched its investigation in January 2022 after a report published in France revealed that some 3,000 priests and other religious officials sexually abused more than 200,000 children.

The Portuguese Catholic Church asked Strecht to set up a commission to examine the phenomenon of child sexual abuse within its fold.

Faced with thousands of cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests revealed around the world and allegations of cover-ups by church members, Pope Francis pledged in 2019 to wage an “all-out battle” against pedophilia in the church.

In addition to France and Portugal, other countries have tried to investigate similar complaints, including Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia.


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