Today the independent commission commissioned by the Portuguese Catholic Church to investigate sexual violence against minors published their conclusions after more than a year of investigation. After collecting 512 testimonies, the commission led by child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht determined that an estimated minimum of 4,815 minors have been victims of abuse by clergy since 1950. According to Strecht, most victims were abused more than once and the majority of abusers were men (96%) and priests (70%). The commission has sent 25 cases to the Justice department due to statutes of limitations expiring on the rest.
The commission has called for determined action from the Justice department to address the issue and to suspend the statute of limitations for 30 years. They have also asked for psychological attention for victims and a list of abusers still active be created.
The findings of the commission comes as no surprise to advocates of sexual violence victims, with Pope Francis himself promising to fight against pedophilia within the Portuguese Catholic Church. The Portuguese Bishops have indicated they will hold a meeting to draw conclusions from the report in March.
The commission’s work provides the victims of sexual violence with the hope of finally breaking the wall of silence many of them have had to live with for decades. It remains to be seen what action is taken by the Bishops and the Justice system to ensure abuse such as this never happens again.