Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Pope Francis meets privately with clergy sex abuse victims


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Pope Francis privately meets Portuguese abuse victims

Pope Francis meets privately with a group of victims of clerical sexual abuse in Portugal. The news was confirmed by Matteo Bruni, Director of the Holy See Press Office, in a brief statement.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis privately met victims of clerical sexual abuse in Portugal, Matteo Bruni, Director of the Holy See Press Office, confirmed in a brief statement to accredited journalists.

The encounter, on Wednesday, the first day of the Pope's apostolic visit to Portugal to celebrate World Youth Day 2023, took place at the Apostolic Nunciature in a reserved context.


A statement by Holy See Press Office Director, Matteo Bruni said "In the evening of today, following institutional and Church meetings, Pope Francis received in the Nunciature a group of 13 people, victims of abuse by members of the clergy, who were accompanied by some representatives of the Portuguese Church institutions in charge of the protection of minors."

He specified the meeting took place "in an atmosphere of intense listening and lasted over an hour," ending shortly after 8:15pm local time.

The meeting followed Vespers in Lisbon's Jeronimos Monastery during which the Holy Father called on prelates and religious to combat clerical sexual abuse and always listen to the victims.

A crucial committment

In February 2023, the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse of Children in the Catholic Church in Portugal produced a final report releasing validated testimonies relating to abuse cases that occurred between 1950 and 2022, pointing to over 4,800 victims.

Pope Francis has repeatedly called upon all in the Church to combat "the scourge" of abuses that have taken place and to help victims.

In February 2019 he convened the first global summit to address the issue in the Vatican, and has since issued various new Church laws to punish offenders, at all levels; change mentalities; and protect young people and the vulnerable.

The Vatican had confirmed, prior to the Pope's arrival in Portugal, that he would be meeting with victims of clerical abuse, but, to protect their privacy, did not release further details.

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