After an initiative at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in Lisbon, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa made a short statement to journalists, with a "first word" addressed "to the victims of sexual abuse, all of them, but particularly now those who come from the part of Catholic Church officials, priests and other officials".

"And that word is very simple: it is to tell you that my intention was not to offend when I said what I said, but if you understood, whichever one of the victims is offended, I apologise for that, because that was not my goal," said the head of state.

"My objective was exactly the opposite: the fear that many victims, out of fear, out of limitation, had not spoken out and the number, which should have been even higher, had remained where it was," he added.

On Tuesday, asked about the collection of 424 testimonies of sexual abuse against children in the Catholic Church in Portugal, the President of the Republic said he was not surprised, stressing that "there is no time limit for these complaints" that have been collected.

"Having 400 cases does not seem to me to be particularly high, because in other countries and with smaller horizons there were thousands of cases".

In view of the criticism that his statements aroused, the head of state released a note explaining that "this number does not seem particularly high in view of the likely sad reality, both in Portugal and around the world", admitting that "there will also have been much higher numbers in Portugal".

Afterwards, the President of the Republic spoke to RTP and SIC reinforcing the same message, reiterating that 424 complaints seem to him to be a "small" number compared to what he considers to be reality, declaring that he democratically accepted the criticisms he received, but did not understand them.