The National Conference of the Apostolate of the Laity, which brings together 50 Catholic movements, admits to bringing forward the National Council that was scheduled for after the summer in order to analyze the whole situation of sexual abuse and the position taken by the Church, namely following the meeting March 3, in which the bishops received the names of the alleged 100 active abusers.
João Cordovil Cardoso, chairman of the National Council of CNAL, told CNN Portugal that this Tuesday night, March 7, the permanent committee of the organization will meet and will “analyze the anticipated realization of the National Council”. This after some movements have revealed their willingness to debate this issue, which is causing unease among Catholics.
At issue is the release of the report by the independent commission, led by Pedro Strecht, which validated 512 testimonies relating to minor victims of sexual abuse by elements of the church, having also estimated the existence of at least 4815 victims.
The action of the bishops, who immediately removed the suspension of the alleged abusers, has generated some discomfort in the Catholic community. There were even those who publicly criticized the lack of immediate measures. This was the case with the rector of the Coimbra seminar, Nuno Santos, who recalled that there are “objective directives from Pope Francis that dictate that, when a priest is accused and this accusation is objective and has strong grounds, that priest must be automatically removed from office” . This after Lisbon’s cardinal-patriarch, Manuel Clemente, said that they don’t have enough evidence to remove suspected priests and that only the Vatican could suspend them. The auxiliary bishop of Braga also defended the suspension of priests suspected of sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, CNAL will launch an awareness-raising campaign on the protection of vulnerable people with all Catholic movements. “You have to be alert and understand the signs”, says João Cordovil Cardoso.