Clerical abuse probe is an ‘open wound that hurts and shames us’ says Portuguese bishop.

Jose Ornelas, above, head of the Bishops’ Conference, is himself under investigation. A teacher has accused him of covering up sex abuse at an orphanage in Mozambique in 2011, something he denies.

A REPORT, commissioned by the Conferência Episcopal Portuguesa and released on Monday. shows that at least 4,815 children were sexually abused by members of the Portuguese Catholic Church—mostly priests—over the past 70 years. The report added that the findings are the “tip of the iceberg”.

Reacting to the report, America’s Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) said in a press release yesterday:

Given the pervasiveness of credible allegations in countries around the world of Catholic clerics molesting children, why would Portugal be any different? It isn’t, of course.

What is surprising is that the report’s numbers are as low as they are: 4,815 cases since 1950.

According to Reuters, most victims of sexual abuse took place when the children were aged 10-14, with the youngest victim being just two-years-old.

Ornelas attended the final report’s presentation and told a news conference that the revelations were an “open wound that hurts and shames us”.

He said Portuguese bishops would meet on March 3 and would look into implementing “more efficient and appropriate mechanisms” to prevent future abuses.

Among other recommendations, the commission said the Church should denounce all alleged abuses, provide psychosocial support to victims and continue the investigation into the issue.

‘Listen to the victims’

Image via YouTube

Hans Zoller, above, the Vatican official responsible for child sexual abuse cases, also attended the event in Lisbon. He said it was important to “continue to listen to victims because this will not be the end of it”.

He predicted that more victims are likely to come forward.

The Portuguese Catholic Church was rocked last year by cases of alleged cover-up of sexual abuse including by bishops who remain active in church roles. The commission said it was preparing a list of accused priests still working.

The Portuguese commission started its work in January 2022 after a report in France revealed around 3,000 priests and religious officials sexually abused over 200,000 children.

The commission spoke with over 500 victims, analysed historical church documents and interviewed bishops and other clergy members.

A mere 25 of the testimonies heard by the commission were sent to the public prosecutors’ office for investigation as all others were committed over 20 years ago and legal proceedings can no longer be initiated.

The commission said the law should be changed so legal proceedings can be initiated for historic crimes committed 30 years ago.

Said child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, who headed the commission:

We want to pay a sincere tribute to those who were abuse victims during their childhood and dared to give a voice to silence. They are much more than a statistic.

Strecht said the 4,815 cases were the “absolute minimum” number of victims of sexual abuse by clergy members in Portugal since 1950. “These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

The commission, which says it is independent, was financed by the Catholic Church. Asked by Reuters in December 2021 if that could be a threat to the commission’s independence, Strecht said he would be the first to walk out and denounce it if the church intervened in the process.

Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego is considering filing for bankruptcy

Just days before the Portuguese report, news broke that the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego is considering filing for bankruptcy.

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According to this report, several parishioners leaving Saint Joseph’s Cathedral on Sunday morning were “shocked” after a letter from Cardinal Robert W McElroy, above, was read out to them.

The letter detailed the “staggering legal costs” the diocese is facing as new lawsuits emerge alleging sexual abuse of minors in years passed.

McElroy wrote:

In 2007, the Diocese paid out $198 million to settle 144 claims of abuse that been brought during an earlier lifting of the statute of limitations. This depleted most of the assets of the Diocese. 

Even with insurance, the Diocese will not be able to pay out similar sums now.  This challenge is compounded by the fact that a bill has now been introduced into the Legislature that seeks to eliminate the statute of limitations entirely, leaving the Diocese vulnerable to potential lawsuits forever.

For all of these reasons, we may be facing a moment where the Diocese enters into bankruptcy in the coming months.  Bankruptcy would provide a pathway for ensuring that the assets of the diocese will be used equitably to compensate all victims of sexual abuse, while continuing the ministries of the Church for faith formation, pastoral life and outreach to the poor and the marginalized. 

It would also provide a fund for future claimants of sexual abuse who have not filed a claim. Finally, bankruptcy would provide a conclusion to the tide of lawsuits covering alleged abuse as long as 75 years ago.

California Assembly Bill 218 (AB218) passed in 2019, and it removes the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases and grants a three-year window for victims to file lawsuits which were previously time-barred.

The letter states filing bankruptcy would ensure “that the assets of the diocese will be used equitably to compensate all victims of sexual abuse” and “provide a fund for future claimants of sexual abuse who have not filed a claim.”

RELATED: Abuse survivor calls Catholic Diocese plan to potentially file for bankruptcy a ‘slap in the face’

The diocese says if it files for bankruptcy, it will file in the upcoming months.

Catholic dioceses across the US have paid more than $3 billion dollars to victims of clergy abuse. Often, these priest abuse settlements also bought silence from victims.

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5 responses to “Clerical abuse probe is an ‘open wound that hurts and shames us’ says Portuguese bishop.”

  1. “the youngest victim being just two-years-old.” How could anyone even consider sexually abusing a two year old? And how could anyone actually sexually abuse an infant? The numbers of sexually abusing priests, and this it seems is the tip of the iceberg, suggest that the priesthood generally is rotten, and devoid of the most basic morals.

    From what is now known how can so many people still remain as church going priests?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A few years ago, a RCSC clerical spokesman said in an interview, that abuse was not as bad as made out by the media since abusers were only about 5% of the clergy! At the time there were 400,000 clergy on the cult’s payroll.


  3. Interesting that the spokesman tries to take refuge in numbers. There is another issue: the nature of the abuse. The two year old being abused by a priest just sticks in my head. What else were these sadistic perverts doing?

    I have children and now grandchildren. Sexually abusing one of them while they were two years old revolts me in a way I cannot find the words to explain.


  4. Priests and choirboys, abuse and outrage
    Go together like a horse and carriage
    This I tell you brother
    You can’t have one without the other

    The Catholic paedophiles hate gay marriage
    It’s an institution they must disparage
    Opposing Human Rights intensely
    And they will say it’s elementary

    Try, try, try to separate them
    It’s an illusion
    Try, try, try, and you will only come
    To this conclusion

    Rape and children, Hate and Christians
    Go together like a horse and carriage
    Dad was told by mother
    You can’t have one, you can’t have none
    You can’t have one without the other

    (Apologies to Sammy Cahn)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brilliant!

      Liked by 1 person

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