Daniel Sampaio calls on the Church and civil society to become more involved in the fight against sexual abuse

Since its creation, the commission has chosen to disseminate information regularly. Since the study is still in progress, aren’t you afraid that information that does not yet completely correspond to the truth will be disseminated?

Of the approximately 300 testimonials, I have no doubt that they correspond to the truth. The other day, one of your colleagues asked me: “But are these some 300 cases of victims who speak or of people who say and file complaints? “. No, I want to make it very clear that it’s 300 and such. We will disclose the exact number at our meeting on Tuesday, in Gulbenkian, where we will have a scientific meeting. We have exceeded 300 cases and these are cases of people who spoke to us directly.

We are sure that this information is absolutely reliable and has been validated by the entire committee. Now we have to do it. Because the fact that we publicize that these cases exist is a call for the person to join us. Suppose a victim is somewhere in Trás-os-Montes in a village and hears Dr. Pedro Strecht say that we have 300 people who have given testimony. This person starts thinking, “I had this problem, should I testify too?” Is it important for me to testify? And does it matter to other people I witness? »

This balance needs to be done on a regular basis, otherwise this topic falls apart and we want to keep this topic completely alive. What impressed me the most in this whole situation was the lack of commitment of the so-called civil society to this cause. It would be necessary that people with a protagonism which can appear on the radio, on television, in the newspapers look into this question. We found virtually zero. People with media responsibilities can promote investigative journalism, it was essential to go to the different places where there are complaints…

It’s as if the victims were isolated and the commission was somewhat isolated from the community. Now, we are all people who participate in civil society and who have proof of work in the community and it impresses me a little that this cause no longer mobilizes people. The media themselves, who have supported us in disseminating these results, should do much more to study the problem. To study the problem sociologically, to go into the field, to question the victims, not ours, but others of priests who have already been condemned, and also to bring testimonies which can be an example so that other people can talk about this silence that they have maintained so long.

Does it also refer to institutions of civil society, to schools?

Yes, a mobilization that we have not been able to carry out and which would be fundamental because there are situations of sexual abuse that occur in religious schools. The context is very different: it can be the seminary, a sacristy, a priest’s house, a priest’s car, a college. The contexts are many and that is why we must be very attentive to what is happening and above all help our young people to study more attentively.

Fortunately, the recent cases are much smaller than the old cases. Legislation has changed, young people, children and adolescents are more aware of this problem and have a greater sense of the privacy of their bodies as absolutely sacred territory. We should only let those who we understand should move our body move our body.

There are children who were abused in childhood and it is only later, when they start having a boyfriend and a different sexual experience, that everything that happened in childhood comes to the surface. . This is why sex education in school is essential and that it continues and that families’ knowledge of this problem is promoted and improved is essential for prevention.

He talked about schools. During the last press conference, they also said that there had been abuses by lay people linked to the Catholic Church, namely scouts and teachers of religion and morals. Could these abuses have happened even in public schools?

Yes, on the public network and on the private network. They are people linked to the Church in which, for example, within the framework of a priest teaching religion and morals and in the scouts – it is common knowledge – that there have been cases of the part of a certain person who is very well integrated into society. This is described on several sites.

Sexual abuse can occur in any situation where there is close contact between an adult and a child and where the adult has a position of power over the child. This has nothing to do with so-called normal sexuality between two people freely consenting to the exposure of their bodies and the sharing of sensations at the level of their bodies. There is a free will which is completely different from the situation of abuse.

In the situation of abuse, there is an adult who has an emotional disorder, in the aggressor there is no internal control or inhibition, there is pleasure in being with a child in a situation of power and there is also often a threat situation around. It is very common in boys. When a man abuses a boy, it’s very common to say, “Don’t tell anyone, or I’ll say you’re gay.” For many young people this accusation is very difficult to accept and so it is another mechanism for the abuser to embarrass the victim into not talking. This is why it is essential to break the silence.

The independent commission said five bishops did not respond to the commission. A few days later, some bishops came to say that the deadline for responding had not yet expired. Can you confirm that was the case?

Yes, there will be no bishop who does not answer. This problem is over. We had to give this information because there was a certain period that was a little longer on the part of some bishops, but there was no opposition from anyone to this interview. I think [as entrevistas] will end this week. These interviews were for me an hour of learning about the functioning of the diocese, of understanding the difficulties that the bishops have in relation to the few human resources at their disposal for their priestly role. I don’t forget that, because I worked for many years in a public hospital, and I recognize the very important role that the Catholic Church plays with vulnerable people, for example with people with mental disorders.

Was it a means of pressure so that they accelerate a little?

Yes. I admit yes. It was a public announcement that we needed to complete our study of these interviews. There are 21 bishops. If we manage to interview all 21, we can draw a conclusion about the Portuguese bishops. If 14 or 13 are questioned, the study is truncated. It was a problem of lack of coordination, of immediate response. He also appeared several times during Lent. This problem is completely solved. What is not outdated is the commitment of the Catholic Church.

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