After meeting with Augusto Santos Silva, the coordinator of the Commission, Pedro Strecht, said that the meeting had already been scheduled “for quite some time” and is part of a decision to make contacts with various institutional entities, taking into account that last January they already met with the President of the Republic and are still awaiting a meeting with the Prime Minister.
“We came to report on the work and provide clarification on any doubts” that might exist, adding that “a request was made for institutional help to civil society - and the Assembly of the Republic (AR) is a house that expresses this very well - so that people can continue to collaborate” with the commission.
“Parliament can help because deputies are elected by the people and we really want to reach the people. We are not focused on numbers, we are not focused on quantitative aspects, they exist, of course, we are really focused on those who went through these circumstances as children”, said Pedro Strecht.
However, he noted, “there are still many people, in possibly poorer and deprived areas, who have not been able to come forward so easily”.
Pedro Strecht recalled that the deputies are elected by various constituencies, they represent their populations and with them it is important to continue to spread this message, not least because time is short and the deadline for completing the work ends in December.
The president of the commission underlined that it was the Church itself who asked for the independent commission to be set up. “It was the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, which includes the 21 diocesan bishops, the cardinal-patriarch, and it is in the interest of the Catholic Church that all situations be investigated, namely those that happened in the past, to prevent this from ever happening again so that the future can obviously be better in all these circumstances that concern the well-being of children and adolescents”.
The same official stated that the purpose of the commission is that in the future there will be no more situations of abuse.
The Public Ministry has opened 10 inquiries from the 17 anonymous complaints reported by the Independent Commission (CI) for the Study of Sexual Abuses against Children in the Catholic Church in Portugal, according to the Attorney General's Office (PGR).
The CI also underlined that it remains attentive to the testimonies it has received, stating that the last balance was made on July 10, indicating that 352 inquiries had been validated and 17 cases forwarded to the MP.
Regarding cold cases, Strecht noted that many cases “relate to crimes that are conditioned due to time and also because victims often prefer anonymity, and even if they have the chance to move forward with other mechanisms from a legal point of view, they prefer not to do so.”
“They prefer, above all, and this has been very striking in our study, to wait for an apology, the request for forgiveness and the implementation of this request by the Portuguese Catholic Church”.
Pedro Strecht also said that the complaints, testimonies or statements “always relate to a much larger number of victims because in each statement, in many cases, many more victims are mentioned”, but that this will be data that will be disclosed only at the end of the investigation.