Portugal: clergy accused of sex abuse
The Catholic Church has been hit by a massive scandal in Portugal: an independent commission has gathered more than 400 testimonies of sex abuse which will be passed on to public prosecutors. Leading Portuguese bishops have apparently known about the crimes for years, but none has admitted any guilt so far. The national press voices outrage.
The problem is the accomplices
Commenting in Público, journalist Maria João Marques accuses top members of the clergy of complicity:
“What execrable souls we have in the Portuguese clergy. The problem was not only those who committed the abuses. It was also their accomplices, then as now. Those who didn't denounce them, those who sought to relativise their transgressions, those who looked the other way, those who simply transferred the perpetrators to other parishes where the abuse continued, those who downplayed the seriousness of the abuse, those who disregarded the consequences for the victims. How can we accept an institution that supposedly proclaims a message of forgiveness and love but ultimately has no compassion for the suffering of abused children and adolescents?”
Church in danger of choking on its own corruption
The patience of the faithful is running out, warns Jornal de Notícias:
“It's surprising, after so many horror stories, to hear the lame excuses of some of our bishops in response to accusations of cover-ups. ... The Church must not hesitate for a second more on the subject of sexual abuse. In defence of the victims, always and above all else. And out of respect for those who continue to believe and trust its work. ... From the social sector to the volunteering sector, the Church is present in all parts of the country. It touches millions of people. Either it will succeed in purifying itself and separating the wheat from the chaff or it will choke on its own corruption.”