Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]
July 21, 2023
By Daniel Payne
Pope Francis is set to meet with victims of sexual abuse when he travels to Portugal for World Youth Day next month.
The Holy Father will meet with victims as part of his multi-day visit to Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel Clemente, the patriarch of Lisbon, confirmed in a conversation with journalists July 20.
The location and date of the meeting would not be publicly announced to protect the privacy of the victims, Archdiocese of Lisbon Auxiliary Bishop Americo Aguiar told Reuters.
A commission investigation had announced earlier in the year that nearly 5,000 children had been sexually abused by Church officials in Portugal over the course of about seven decades.
The 2023 World Youth Day will be taking place in Lisbon Aug. 1–6. The five-day event is celebrated internationally every few years, with most meetings since the 1980s taking place in Europe.
Francis, throughout his pontificate, has been outspoken in his condemnation of child sexual abuse among Church leaders. Last month he wrote to the president of Bolivia expressing “sorrow and …shame and dismay” over abuse in that country.
In 2019 the pope promulgated the Church legislation Vos Estis Lux Mundi meant to address sexual abuse in the Church; earlier this year he updated those rules and made them permanent.
The Holy Father will be present in Portugal next month for most of the event, dividing his time between World Youth Day functions and meetings with government leaders.
Francis is also planning to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, with the pope reportedly intending to pray the rosary with sick young adults at the shrine’s Chapel of Apparitions.
The pope is scheduled to celebrate Mass on the final day of the event.
World Youth Day’s launch is popularly attributed to St. John Paul II, whose 1984 Palm Sunday gathering to mark the Youth Jubilee of the Holy Year of Redemption drew hundreds of thousands of young participants from around the world.
Daniel Payne is a senior editor at Catholic News Agency. He previously worked at the College Fix and Just the News. He lives in Virginia with his family.