More than 200 allegations of child sex abuse have been made against the Portuguese Catholic Church, a special committee has said.
The allegations have been made by people born between 1933 and 2006, the independent authority added.
Portuguese church officials said two years ago that authorities had investigated only a dozen allegations of sexual abuse involving Portuguese priests since 2001.
More than half of those cases were dropped because church investigators decided there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue them.
But the Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Church was set up in January to look into historic allegations.
The six-person lay committee said that it had received reports from 214 people during its first month of work.
“This suffering is associated with feelings of shame, fear, guilt and self-exclusion,” the committee said in a statement on Thursday.
Many of the allegations suggest a strong possibility that other children may have been victims of the same abuser, it added.
Some of the anonymous allegations came from Portuguese citizens now living in Canada, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The authority will report its findings to the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference at the end of the year ahead of potential investigations.