First day open to complaints collects 50 testimonies of child abuse in the church
The telephone line “was almost always full” and by the end of the afternoon “about 50 testimonies had already been validated”, said the coordinator of the Independent Commission for the Study of Child Abuse in the Catholic Church.
On the first day of open channels for complaints of sexual abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church, today, the telephone line “was almost always filled” and by the end of the afternoon “about 50 testimonies” had already been validated. The coordinator of the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church, child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, said, in a written response sent to Lusa, that “the telephone line was almost always filled” on the first day open to the collection of complaints and testimonies, through the various channels opened for this purpose.
“About 50 testimonies have already been validated through an online survey or completed in a phone call”, said Pedro Strecht, stressing, in a statement around 6:30 pm, that the telephone line only closes at 8:00 pm, suggesting that the number can be higher.
“The commission is pleased that its initial message was welcomed by people who were victims of this type of abuse”, said Pedro Strecht.
The commission that will investigate sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Portugal began today to receive complaints from victims, from cases that have occurred since 1950, which can be sent to the authorities and investigated if the crimes have not yet expired.
The commission receives testimonies from victims who want to do so, or from third parties who want to report cases they know, and the working group has mechanisms in place to screen for false testimonies that may arise, said Pedro Strecht.
Complaints and testimonies can reach the commission by completing an online survey on the website https://darvozaosilencio.org, which adopts the motto and objective of the commission at its address, but also through the telephone number +351917110000, available between 10am :00 and 20:00 daily, but which is not intended to be either an “SOS or psychological support line”, as Filipa Tavares, a social worker with experience in monitoring children and families, who is part of the commission, stressed.
Testimonies can also be sent by email – firstname.lastname@example.org – in writing, sent to a box that will be available on the commission’s website or in person, upon prior appointment of an interview.
The commission intends to collect testimonies and complaints from people who have suffered abuse in childhood and adolescence, up to the age of 18.
The work of this independent commission will take place throughout this year, until December 31, in a physical space that is “uncharacterized” and “autonomous” of the Church, with a report expected to be presented in December. The work will be financed by the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP), but it will be open to possible contributions from other institutions, which will be disclosed “later” in this process, according to Pedro Strecht.
At the end of its work, the commission will prepare a report, to be delivered to the CEP, which will decide what actions to take.
In the presentation of the commission, in December, the president of the CEP, Bishop José Ornelas, claimed the importance of following “a path of truth, without prejudice or concealment” for the Portuguese Catholic Church, reinforcing the Church’s interest in finding out the truth. , but avoiding setting expectations about the findings and conclusions of the commission, to whom he assured that he will have the means to work.
At a press conference on Tuesday, which took place at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon), the composition of the commission was publicly presented, which, in addition to the coordinator, includes the psychiatrist Daniel Sampaio, the former Minister of Justice Álvaro Laborinho Lúcio, the sociologist and researcher Ana Nunes de Almeida, social worker and family therapist Filipa Tavares and filmmaker Catarina Vasconcelos.