Portuguese Catholic Church announces it will compensate victims of sex abuse

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MADRID (AP) — The Portuguese Catholic Church said Thursday it has unanimously agreed to pay some form of compensation to victims of sex abuse by clergy.

The country’s Bishops Conference said after a four-day general assembly meeting at the Fatima shrine that it will set up a fund with contributions from all the Portuguese dioceses to meet the eventual payments.

“In communion with the suffering of the victims, the Portuguese Bishops reaffirm their total commitment to do everything in their power to make reparations, and express their hope that this process of welcoming, accompanying and preventing will be a contribution to the actions of society,” the Bishops’ Conference said.

Church officials have said 20 victims so far have asked for compensation.

A 2023 report by the Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Catholic Church said more than 4,800 people may have been victims of child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church. More than 500 alleged victims have come forward with their stories.

The Committee, set up by Portuguese bishops, looked into alleged cases from 1950 onwards. In most of the alleged cases, the statute of limitations has expired.

The Portuguese church has softened its position on possible payments in recent years. Previously it said it would pay victims only if obliged to do by courts.

Victims will have to submit their requests to the independent VITA Group for victims, or the Diocesan Commission for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults, between June and December. An evaluation commission will then decide how much money the victims will receive.

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