LISBON, PORTUGAL (AP) — Clergy sexual abuse cases cast a dark shadow over Portugal’s Catholic Church, with refuge given to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning bishop at the center of allegations of sexual misconduct. Despite the authorities’ hasty attempts to explain why they were arrested, officials are troubled. .
Senior Catholic leaders apologized last weekend for decades of abuses and cover-ups, and with current estimates of about 400 cases, the Archbishop of Lisbon pleaded with believers not to lose faith in the church. did.
Archbishop Manuel Clemente said after Mass on Sunday, “Trust yourself to do your best in regard to the Law and the Gospel.
Attention has turned to Portuguese ecclesiastical authorities and the Vatican.Last week, the Vatican’s Sexual Abuse Office said it had secretly sanctioned East Timor’s revered independence hero, Bishop Carlos Jiménez Bello, in 2020. Confirmed Dutch media reports.Former Portuguese colony in East Asia. Bello, who lives in Portugal, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996.
Other unwelcome facts for the Church of Portugal have piled up in recent days, just as Portugal looks to build momentum for next year’s World Youth Day in Lisbon. Pope Francis will attend this event, which is a major occasion of the Catholic calendar.
Portugal’s Attorney General’s Office told The Associated Press on Monday that Bishop José Ornelas, president of the Conference of Portuguese Bishops, is under investigation for allegedly covering up an abusive priest in the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique. I have confirmed that there is
Ornelas, who presides over Portugal’s world-famous shrine in Fatima, has denied any wrongdoing or wrongdoing and has promised to cooperate with the investigation, which has further increased pressure on the Portuguese ecclesiastical authorities. rice field.
Ornelas flew to Italy over the weekend and held private meetings with Francis at the Vatican. The Vatican did not provide details about the meeting.
Ornelas’ papal visit comes two months after Lisbon’s Archbishop Clemente visited the pope amid allegations of child sexual abuse by priests and a cover-up by senior members of the Portuguese Church. rice field.
The scandal comes against the backdrop of a revelation released by a lay commission investigating sexual abuse cases in Portugal’s historic church, which has unearthed nearly 400 suspects since January. Previously, church officials said they knew only a handful of cases.
On Saturday, the diocese of Braga in northern Portugal issued an apology for the “pain and suffering” caused by allegations of sexual abuse against a local priest by men and women in the region. and victims complain that nothing happened after sounding the alarm at the turn of the century.
Many open questions remain about Bello’s time in Portugal. The Salesian Mission to which he belongs said that it had accepted him at the request of his superiors. His current whereabouts are unknown.
The Vatican banned Bello from contacting minors or East Timor, based on allegations of wrongdoing that arrived in Rome in 2019.
The East Timorese embassy in Lisbon was asked Monday to comment on reports in the Portuguese media that they had removed him from Salesian property in Lisbon following last week’s revelations and taken him to an undisclosed location. He did not reply immediately.
Bello said he retired in 2002 for health reasons and to give the newly independent East Timor another church leadership. However, less than a year after his retirement, Bello was sent by the Vatican and the Salesians to Mozambique to work as a missionary priest. Portugal maintains close ties with African countries.
There, Bello said he spent his time “teaching the catechism to children and giving meditation to young people.”
The United Nations and victims’ advocates have asked Francis to allow an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Bello’s retirement in 2002, 20 years behind the normal retirement age, and why he was sent to Mozambique. .
https://wgnradio.com/news/international/ap-portugal-abuse-cases-mount-amid-questions-over-nobel-bishop/ Portuguese abuse cases are on the rise amid questions about Bishop Nobel. WGN Radio 720