2021.02.09 Stop abusi sessuali  Stop sexual abuse

Portuguese bishops establish new team to manage cases of abuse

Grupo VIDA was created in April in the wake of the release earlier this year of the Independent Commission’s report on sexual abuse in the Portuguese Church.

By Lisa Zengarini

An independent team established by the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP), to monitor cases of sexual abuse against children and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church in Portugal, has reported that since it started operating three months ago it has received 48 complaints.

Of those 48 victims, 30 have given their informed consent for the team, to proceed to inform  competent authorities for further canonical and civil proceedings, said its coordinator, psychologist Rute Agulhas, in a press release on 23 August.

Around 20 are to receive the psychological and psychiatric support is is empowered to provide, she added.

The February report on sexual abuse in the Church in Portugal

The new body, named Grupo VIDA, was set up in the wake of the release on 13 February, 2023,  of a report by an Independent Commission charged by the bishops to shed light into child sexual abuse in the Portuguese Church.

After collecting more than 500 testimonies, the Commission found that between 1950 and 2022 at least 4,815 minors were sexually abused by members of the Church in Portugal, mostly clergy.

At the presentation of the report its president, child neuro-psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, warned that the data collected were only “the tip of the iceberg’.

The report also highlighted that the violence had been “systematically” concealed by the local Church hierarchy.

Measures taken by the Portuguese bishops

Following the public outcry caused in Portugal by the report, the Portuguese bishops met on March 3 for an extraordinary plenary assembly in Fatima to examine its findings and decide new measures to take to address the scourge of sexual abuse in the Church.

In a second meeting in April they decided to establish the Grupo VIDA  to “further empower” the “valuable work” that has been carried out by the diocesan commissions to welcome  and accompany the victims, as well as in preventing abuse  “in conjunction with the National Coordination Team”.

The special team can be contacted via phone  and complaints can be presented by filling a form on its website, .

Agulhas said the group will present the its first  Activity Report on  December 12, 2023.

Pope Francis private audience to victims during his  recent viti to Lisbon 

During his recent Apostolic Journey to Lisbon to celebrate World Youth Day 2023, Pope Francis met privately with a group of 13 victims. The audience took place in the Nunciature the first day of his visit, 2 August.

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24 August 2023, 15:33