The diocese of Setúbal announced this Tuesday that there are five names of priests accused of having sexually abused minors on the list sent to it by the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse of Children in the Catholic Church.
Of those, a priest is under the jurisdiction of a different ecclesiastical authority, to whose hierarchical superior the information received has been forwarded. “During the time it was under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Setúbal, nothing is reported on the denunciation of abuse of minors”, states the diocese signed by the diocesan administrator, Father José João Aires Lobato, since the diocese has been without a bishop since D. José Ornelas was transferred to Leiria-Fátima.
Another appointed priest is currently removed from the public exercise of the ministry, after being the target of two canonical processes. The acts of which he is accused in the ongoing processes do not fall within the nature of ‘child abuse’, however, “the Independent Commission signals an abuse of a minor”, points out the diocesan administrator, saying he is waiting for the commission that was coordinated by Pedro Strecht “further details to organize process”.
A third priest was also the subject of a canonical process for sexual abuse of minors, which, now concluded, determined that the priest, who had been removed preventively, could resume the exercise of his ministry. “If the testimonies collected by the Independent Commission constitute new facts, a new process will be initiated”, further asserts the diocese of Setúbal.
Finally, the list contained the names of two priests about whom “there is no information in the diocesan archives that would allow us to verify the accusations that led to the inclusion of these priests in the list of alleged abusers”. The diocese says it is awaiting further information.
Added to the five names from Setúbal are those from Vila Real, whose diocese also announced this Tuesday that it had received a list of three suspects, none of whom are active in the diocese: two names refer to “cases already publicly known and which had , in due time, adequate civil and canonical treatment resulting in a sentence of suspension and dismissal from the ministry”, according to the diocesan communiqué, the third being an active priest belonging to another diocese, which has already been informed of the case.
Thus, there are more than 100 names on the lists handed over by the independent commission to the 21 Portuguese dioceses (20 diocesan in addition to that of the Armed and Security Forces). From that universe, about forty names refer to deceased priests. 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.
So far, only the diocese of Beja, led by D. João Marcos, has yet to render public accounts on the list containing the names of suspected priests.
Until “the end of April”, guarantees the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, identical lists will go to congregations and religious institutes.