Sex Abuse Revelations Unwelcome Distraction as Pope Francis Visits Scandal-Hit Portugal

When a panel of experts read aloud some of the harrowing accounts they had collected from recently discovered victims of child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church, the country’s senior bishops squirmed in the auditorium’s front-row seats.

During a live television broadcast, the experts reported in February that at least 4,815 boys and girls had been abused since 1950, most aged 10-14.

Before the stunning findings, senior Portuguese church officials had maintained there had been only a handful of cases of clergy sex abuse. They lost even more credibility with a response so clumsy and hesitant that victims were inspired to form Portugal’s first survivor advocacy group to press for compensation.

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