Portuguese Bishops Unveil Measures to End Church Sexual Abuse as Pope Urges Prayers for Victims

Fight Sexual Abuse

Despite being in a sacred and very holy position, some church officials and priests have been prosecuted because of sexually abusing some of the church members, leaving their integrity in a bad state.

The bishops of Portugal have started taking action in response to a report that exposed the extent of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in the country. The report estimated that more than 4,000 children had been abuse victims since the 1950s.

Bishops of Portugal Drives Measures to Put an End to Sexual Abuse in Religious Institutions

According to the Catholic News Agency, the bishops held a plenary assembly in Fátima, announcing the creation of all-lay diocesan commissions and a memorial to the victims. These measures will be unveiled during World Youth Day in Lisbon from August 1 to 6. Father Manuel Barbosa, a spokesman for the bishops' conference, expressed gratitude to the victims who came forward with their testimonies, saying that without them, it would not have been possible to take the steps they are now taking.

They expressed gratitude to the victims who have been brave enough to come forward with their testimonies and acknowledged that they have initiated taking these steps because of them.

Father Manuel Barbosa, a spokesman for the bishops' conference, also announced the creation of a specific group that would follow the independent commission model to support victims still carrying the pain. The diocesan commissions would now comprise only competent laypeople in diverse areas of activity, with the possibility of having a pastoral assistant. These measures are a step towards addressing the issue and acknowledging the victims' pain.

In the article in Reuters, Barbosa apologizes sincerely to the victims of sexual abuse. The church is committed to taking necessary measures to ensure such abuse does not occur again. A new group, supported by the church, will be formed to listen to abuse victims. Keith Porteous Wood, president of Britain's National Secular Society and an advocate for victims of clerical abuse, has raised concerns about the church's ability to investigate and report abuse, citing "obstructions" and unrealistic timelines. Wood suggests that a new commission, led by state judges, should be created instead of relying on the church's commissions.

Also Read: Priest Indicted of Inviting Two Nuns to Take Part in a 'Holy Trinity' Threesome

Pope Francis, on His Sincere Commitment to Help the Victims, Urges Prayer for Them

The Catholic church leader has been very alarmed by this pressing issue and is concerned that if these crimes never stop, the integrity and sacredness of the Religion might be put at stake.

In the story shared in Aleteia, the Pope's prayer intention for March is dedicated to victims of abuse, particularly those committed by church members. The Pope hopes the church will provide a concrete response to their pain and suffering, placing the victims at the centre of everything.

The Pope stresses that asking for forgiveness is necessary but not enough. Concrete actions must be taken to repair the horrors the victims have suffered and prevent such incidents from happening again. The monthly Pope Video with the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network illustrates the Pope's message.

According to Francies, a path for responding to the abuses committed should be created, beginning with bringing them to light in society and families. He emphasizes that the tragedy must not be hidden in the church or other types of institutions. He stresses the importance of the church providing safe spaces for victims to be heard, receives psychological support, and be protected.

Related Article: How to Spot, Prevent, and Handle Sex Abuse in Religious Institutions, Public Places, and Homes