Fatima, Portugal, Mar 3, 2023 / 18:10 pm
The bishops of Portugal on Friday began taking concrete steps to respond to a damning investigative report last month that estimated well over 4,000 children have been victims of sexual abuse within the country’s Catholic Church since the 1950s.
Meeting in a plenary assembly in Fátima, the Portuguese Episcopal Conference announced the creation of all-lay diocesan commissions and a memorial to victims that will be unveiled during World Youth Day, taking place in Lisbon Aug. 1–6, among other measures.
“We reiterate our deep gratitude to all the victims who have given their testimony over the last year. Without you, it would not have been possible to reach today. Thank you,” said Father Manuel Barbosa, a spokesman for the bishops’ conference.
“We also want to leave a word of courage to all the victims who still harbor the pain in the depths of their hearts,” he added, announcing that a “specific group” will be created, which will follow the model of the independent commission. In addition, the diocesan commissions that had already been created will now be “made up only of competent laypeople in the most diverse areas of activity, with the possibility of having an ecclesiastical assistant,” the bishops decided.