Asked by the Lusa agency about the situation in Portugal, following the release of the report that points to the possibility that, in France, in recent decades, more than 200 thousand children have been victims of sexual abuse within the Church, the CEP, according to information from its secretary, Father Manuel Barbosa said that “the Permanent Council and the Plenary Assembly of the CEP keep the matter on the agenda, continuing to take measures to implement what is decreed in the Guidelines” approved in November 2020.
These Guidelines “insist on prevention, training, investigation and handling of possible complaints about cases, taking into account canonical and civil legislation”, said the CEP secretary, acknowledging that the epidemic impeded the progress of the work as initially planned.
“All Dioceses have created commissions for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, whose powers are described in the aforementioned document [Guidelines]. From the beginning, the intention was to hold periodic meetings of the commissions for information, training and exchange of experiences. With the pandemic situation, it was not possible to make much progress in this direction”, informed Father Manuel Barbosa.
According to the CEP secretary, “even so, a meeting was held in Fatima on May 31, 2021 with all the diocesan commissions, led by the Jesuit priest Hans Zollner, member of the Pontifical Commission for the Guardianship of Minors and President of the Center for the Protection of Minors, which is part of the Institute of Psychology of the Pontifical Gregorian University”.
“The matter will continue to be dealt with, namely with the constitution of a group at national level from the diocesan commissions, as mentioned in article 25 of the Guidelines”, which states that “the Episcopal Conference seeks to keep itself informed of the activities of each Commission and, as far as possible, join forces among them, so that the work of each Diocesan Commission can be carried out together with other ecclesial and civil entities”.
Among the possible initiatives promoted by the Episcopal Conference, "may include meetings for formation and sharing of experiences, the possible elaboration of manuals of good practices to be implemented by ecclesial entities where they do not yet exist, and other similar initiatives", adds that point. of the document approved by the CEP Plenary Assembly in November 2020.
Reads to me more like a PR exercise than any attempt to tackle the abuse which is rampant in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church's news service in Portugal reported that a senior official said church authorities have investigated only about a dozen allegations of sexual abuse involving Portuguese priests since 2001. Strange that abuse is widespread in countries such as Ireland, France, The USA, Australia, Canada and others, but only 12 'reported' cases in Portugal in 20 years! This is far more likely to a reluctance to come forward rather than a near absence of abuse.
By Martyn Williams from Beiras on 14 Oct 2021, 13:04