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Monday, March 27, 2023

IL says Church was too cautious about abuse suspects and recommends “common sense”

“If there are suspicions, if there are indications, then we will not continue to allow these situations to happen”, insisted the Liberal leader, in statements to journalists, as part of a visit to the Azores, stating that the Catholic Church “takes too cautious an approach” on this matter.

For Rui Rocha, the Episcopal Conference “seems not to be taking advantage” of the work and the opportunity that the Independent Commission created, with the survey of complaints about alleged cases of sexual abuse in the Church, over several years.

“Analyzing what was the intervention of the Episcopal Conference, I am concerned, because the Independent Commission has, in fact, opened an opportunity for all this to be different, in the future, and that the victims can have access to the justice they deserve”, he stressed. .

For the national leader of the Liberals, it was imperative that the Church take preventive measures in order to prevent new cases of sexual abuse from occurring, but when confronted about whether the accused priests should be removed from worship, Rui Rocha only speaks of “well sense”.

“The caution here is not to postpone decisions. Caution here is to prevent new situations, and therefore, a common sense solution is important ”, concluded Rui Rocha, saying only that, in his opinion, the Episcopal Conference will not be taking advantage of the opportunity created by the Independent Commission.

Psychiatrist Daniel Sampaio today denied that the Church had received a list with the names of abusive priests without having more information about the reported cases, describing the position of the bishops as a “delay of the problem”.

“It is not true that it is just a list of names”, said the member of the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse of Children in the Portuguese Catholic Church, clarifying: “The list was obtained from the complaints of victims – in which the victim X says she was abused by Father Y – and the resulting investigation by the Historical Investigation Group into the archives. And the list that was delivered results from the combination of these two”.

Speaking to Lusa, Daniel Sampaio emphasized that there was work carried out over the last year in all dioceses with the bishops and that “each name is known to the dioceses”.

“When the cardinal-patriarch says that the Church does not have data, it is not true,” said the psychiatrist.

On Sunday, the cardinal-patriarch of Lisbon, Manuel Clemente, declared that the Church could act if it had facts to add to the names on the list presented.

“What was given to us by the Independent Commission was a list of names. If that list of names is filled with facts, both we and the civil authorities can act”, said Manuel Clemente.

The Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church validated 512 testimonies, pointing, by extrapolation, to at least 4,815 victims. Twenty-five cases were sent to the Public Ministry, which opened 15 investigations, of which nine were closed.

The testimonies refer to cases that occurred between 1950 and 2022, the time span covered by the commission’s work.

In the report, released in February, the commission warned that the data collected in ecclesiastical archives on the incidence of sexual abuse “should be understood as the ‘tip of the iceberg’” of this phenomenon.

The commission handed over to the Portuguese Episcopal Conference a list of alleged abusers, some of them active, which sent the decision to remove priests suspected of abuse to the dioceses and rejected the award of compensation to the victims.

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