Pope Francis meets privately with Portuguese sexual abuse victims

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Pope Francis met privately with 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 private context.

A statement by the Holy See Press Office Director said: “This evening, after concluding his institutional and ecclesial encounters, Pope Francis received in the Nunciature a group of 13 victims of abuse by members of the clergy who were accompanied by several Church organizations committed to the protection of minors.”

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

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

A crucial commitment

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 modifications to canon law 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.

Source: Vaticannews.va