LISBON, Portugal — The Catholic Church’s news service in Portugal reports that a senior official says church authorities have investigated only about a dozen allegations of sexual abuse involving Portuguese priests since 2001.
Agencia Ecclesia says Father Manuel Barbosa, spokesman for the Portuguese bishops’ conference, told reporters Tuesday that more than half of those cases were dropped because church investigators decided there was not enough evidence to pursue them.
Speaking at a news conference at the Fatima shrine in central Portugal, he says it is usually up to families to report any allegations to the police.
The priest said the Portuguese Church has a “zero tolerance” policy towards abuse.
He also said the process for dealing with sexual abuse is handled at the diocesan level, “because that is where people live.”
Agencia Ecclesia did not quote Barbosa as giving any specific numbers of sex abuse cases, or saying if any priests were prosecuted or punished.
Pope Francis is hosting a church summit on sexual abuse from Feb. 21-24.
Crux staff contributed to this report.