Beja received a list of five suspects of sexual abuse, but all have died | sexual abuse

The diocese of Beja received a list with five names, four priests and a layperson, suspected of having committed sexual abuse against children and young people. These names were selected following a study carried out by the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse of Children in the Catholic Church and refer to people who have already died, informed the diocese led by Bishop D. João Marcos.

According to the statement from the diocese of Beja, none of the situations reported “are in the archives of the diocese or were in any way denounced to the same” and it was not possible to “determine the facts and contours of the denunciations” from the available elements. “It is thus completely impossible and ineffective to carry out any investigative steps. However, we express our commitment, zeal and determination to provide the necessary support to any victim that we can identify”, adds the document, quoted by Ecclesia Agency.

One of the cases identified dates back to 1963 and involved a “priest who lived in the city of Beja and, as a result of what happened, left the diocese”. responsibilities in the education of children.” There is yet another name that appears “in a rather vague situation” and that is a layman who worked as a sacristan in Moura.

The other case “is situated in the year 1978 and is related to a priest from Serpa or from a parish in the same municipality”, and the last “concerns a situation that occurred in the early 1980s, in Mértola and deals with if from a priest who was there, but he was not the parish priest of the village”.

In addition to these cases, the diocese of Beja also clarified that its archives contain four cases “denounced between the years 2001 and 2020” and that these “deserved due and mandatory referral, both civil and canonical”. “resignation from the clerical state” of a priest, in another the priest in question was acquitted, the third was “investigated internally and handed over to the Judiciary Police and subsequently archived due to lack of evidence” and the fourth resulted in the expulsion from the seminary of a lay person in formation for the priesthood, and “the matter was handed over to the civil authorities and judged in the Court of the District of Beja, awaiting the sentence”, details the statement.

No reports that “await action”

The diocese of Beja reinforces, therefore, that “there is no denunciation, whether it has been communicated or is on file in the Diocese of Beja, which has not received due follow-up, nor is there any current case awaiting action” by the diocese.

The Bishop of Beja, D. João Marcos, also reaffirms the commitment “to collaborate with the civil and ecclesiastical authorities” with transparency and rigor, “dealing with impartiality and firmness any situations of abuse, sexual or any other, and to work together with all those who serve the common good in our communities, especially with the youngest”.

This position arises after D. João Marcos admitted that priests suspected of sexual abuse who demonstrate repentance and make amends for the acts committed could be forgiven by the Church. “We are all sinners, we are all limited, we are all flawed. This approach is not very Catholic. In the Catholic Church, there is forgiveness”, said the clergyman in an interview with SIC. However, these statements deserved harsh criticism, which led him to make an apology and defend that the investigation of cases should be quick and result in the application of “civil and criminal law”.

The lists delivered by the independent commission to the 21 Portuguese dioceses (20 diocesan to which the Armed and Security Forces are added) totaled 108 names of clerics and lay people suspected of having committed sexual abuse against children and young people within the Church.

Among these cases, more than 40 concern deceased priests or lay people. Even so, five priests and a layman were preventively removed from their functions, while the respective prior investigation is carried out aimed at assessing the veracity of the accusations and, if necessary, starting the canonical process.

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