Bishop José Ornelas Carvalho of Setúbal, the bishops’ conference president, told journalists on Nov. 11 that the commission would have “real independence.”
“We will do everything to fully clarify this issue. So, whatever we need to do, let’s do it, I have absolutely no doubt about it," he said, according to Agência Ecclesia.
Ahead of the Nov. 8-11 bishops’ meeting, more than 200 Catholics sent a letter to the bishops’ conference (known by its Portuguese initials, CEP) calling for an independent investigation into clerical abuse.
The letter, also shared with the apostolic nuncio to Portugal, Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, said: “We strongly urge the CEP to align itself with Pope Francis’ guidelines and urgently take the decision to launch a rigorous, comprehensive and truly independent national investigation, with a time span of 50 years, by a commission of experts composed exclusively of Catholic laity, non-believers, social science and justice professionals, whose autonomy and independence are absolutely unquestionable, although it may eventually be advised by some clergy.”
The letter followed the publication last month of a landmark report by the French Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE).
The independent commission concluded that hundreds of thousands of children were abused in the Catholic Church in France over the past 70 years.