Catholic Church of Portugal compensates victims of intimate abuse

The Catholic Church of Portugal said this Thursday (11) that it will financially compensate victims of intimate child abuse within the Church and that the amounts to be paid will be defined on a case-by-case basis, an approach criticized by survivor groups.

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As a result, members of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP) have been meeting since Monday (8) at the Sanctuary of Fátima, in central Portugal, to discuss compensation, among other issues.

In February 2023, a report by a Church-funded Portuguese commission concluded that at least 4,815 minors had been intimately abused by clergy — most of them priests — over seven decades.

Furthermore, the report’s authors said their findings were the “tip of the iceberg,” and the head of the commission, Pedro Strecht, added that more than 100 priests suspected of intimate child abuse remained active in church roles.

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The following month, the Church announced a series of measures to combat intimate child abuse, but was heavily criticized for not adopting stricter measures.

Bishop José Ornelas, president of CEP, said that the organization’s assembly unanimously approved the granting of compensation, with requests to be presented from June to December this year. Twenty-one people have already requested compensation.

A committee will determine the amount to be given to each victim and a newly created fund by the CEP will be used to make the payments, Ornelas said.

The criteria for deciding the amounts are still being worked on, said Ornelas, explaining that no maximum amount has been defined and that the severity of the cases will be taken into account.