Twelve victims of sexual abuse in Portugal’s Catholic Church apply for compensation

Portugal Resident [Lagoa, Portugal]

March 18, 2024

By Natasha Donn

Number represents 50% increase on victim applications announced last month

So far 12 victims of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Portugal have applied for compensation, Group VITA – the group set up to implement the findings of an independent report on the subject – has announced.

The figure represents a 50% increase on the number announced a month ago.

According to a note sent to the press by Group VITA, “several people are undergoing regular psychological and/or psychiatric follow-up, and 12 are requesting financial compensation” – a matter that will be analysed in April by the plenary assembly of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference (CEP).

The group’s coordinator, psychologist Rute Agulhas, gave her progress update to Lusa in which she said VITA has now been contacted by 84 people in its 10 months of operation – this means another five people have come forward in the space of a month. 

“Fifty-two appointments have been made and more are scheduled for the near future,” the statement adds.

VITA’s professionals are to start receiving training this week from INEM’s Centre for Psychological Support and Crisis Intervention to help them strengthen skills for “crisis intervention” in telephone calls in cases where there is “suicidal or even homicidal ideation” on the part of the caller.

“With regard to training and capacity-building actions for the various ecclesiastical structures, actions are already scheduled for catechists, teachers of Catholic Moral and Religious Education, Catholic school teachers and public school teachers (the latter at the request of the Directorate-General for Education),” the statement continues. “There will also be a new cycle of training aimed at the various religious institutes.”

The VITA Group was created in April 2023 following the release of the bombshell report which blew the lid on decades of child abuse by Catholic priests.

It can be contacted via the telephone helpline (on 915 090 000) or via the signposting form on the website