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News > Portugal

Portuguese Clergy Might Have Sexually Abused Over 4,000 Minors

  • A priest holds a crucifix.

    A priest holds a crucifix. | Photo: Twitter/ @pmxico

Published 13 February 2023

The Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Catholic Church presented a 500-page report detailing these cases. 

On Monday, the Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Catholic Church estimated that at least 4,815 minors may have suffered sexual abuse by the Portuguese Catholic clergy since 1950.


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The Committee presented a 500-page report detailing these cases. Its director, psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, stressed that about 512 Portuguese have already confirmed having suffered from sexual assault in their childhood by clerics. 

“Nevertheless, only 25 out of these accusations have passed to the Prosecutor’s offices since most of the cases are time-barred,” Strecht lamented, suggesting extending the limitation period for these offenses from 23 years to at least 30 years.

Cleric's sexual abuses occurred throughout Portugal —with a particular incidence in Lisbon, Porto, and Braga cities— and affected children of different economic backgrounds. About 77 percent of the perpetrators were priests, and about 53 percent of the victims were pre-adolescent males.

“Silence protected the perpetrators: 77 percent of the victims never filed a complaint with the Church, and only 4 percent of the affected minors made inquiries with the Police,” Strecht highlighted.

The Committee did not publish the names of the victims or the perpetrators. However, its members will send a confidential annex with information on the culprits to Portugal’s Episcopal Conference (CEP) and the Police.

"We have seen and heard facts that we cannot ignore. It is a dramatic set of circumstances that will not be easy to overcome,” the CEP head, Bishop Jose Ornelas, stated upon thanking the Committee for verifying the victims’ situation.


Pedro Strecht
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