Report: More than 4K Children Abused By Portugal's Catholic Church

    Report: More than 4K Children Abused By Portugal's Catholic Church
    Last updated Feb 14, 2023
    Image credit: AP [via Al Jazeera]


    • A panel of experts on Monday announced that their investigation had found that more than 4.8K individuals may have been sexually abused as children by the Portuguese Catholic Church. Though Senior church officials claimed there were only a handful of cases, at least 512 victims have come forward.[1]
    • The investigating panel identified that, in 77% of reports, the offender was a priest. They also revealed that a majority of the victims were identified as male.[2]
    • The report reviewed claims spanning over seven decades, going as far back as 1950. Pedro Strecht, a child psychiatrist and head of the panel, has said the group was seeking "to pay a sincere tribute to those who were abuse victims during their childhood and dared to give a voice to silence."[3]
    • The Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Catholic Church panel — established just over a year ago — will reportedly deliver their findings to the Portuguese Bishops Conference. The report will not contain the names of the victims but will include a list of the churches identified by victims as connected with abuse.[4]
    • While the statute of limitations on most of the abuse reports has lapsed, the final report will contain a list of the victim-identified church members who perpetrated the abuse. The panel will reportedly make the publication available to police.[4]
    • The Portuguese investigation panel was convened 30 years after the church's sex abuse scandal was made public in both Ireland and Australia, and 20 years after it emerged in the US. Pope Francis summoned church leaders to the Vatican to discuss the scandal just four years ago.[1]


    Establishment-critical narrative

    The Vatican, specifically Pope Francis, has failed the Catholic Church and its members. Despite being lauded for his plans to take the church in a different direction, the Pope has neglected to address the child sex abuse scandal that has rocked the church for decades, even relieving one of his top officials from duty to excuse him answering allegations of exploitation in Australia. His failure to act might not condone the behavior, but it does provide fodder for the critics who say he is willingly helping cover up the systemic sexual criminality of the church.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    Pope Francis understands the enormity of the challenge faced by the church amid these child sex abuse allegations. He has taken it upon himself to bring the institution to account and ensure that any exploitation does not continue. He has taken the first major step of acknowledging that the abuse has occurred, now he will personally work to rid the church of the scandal that has undermined trust in religious leaders and discouraged people from engaging with the Christian church.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 50% chance that the Catholic Church will elect a new Pope by February, 2025, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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