Sunday, 7 October 2007

Casa Pia...Part II ???

One is entitled to ask what kind of justice exists in Portugal at the light of the latest news concerning the “Casa Pia” (translation: “Pious House”). I was shocked to read the latest declarations on the Portuguese newspaper “Correio da Manhã” from Catalina Pestana ex-headmaster of the Casa Pia: “...there is still internal abusers... there is a strong suspicion of external networks that continue to sexually abuse the children of the Casa Pia”.

Did we not learn anything, did we not take any lessons from that high profile lawsuit of some years ago which revealed the ugliest sides of human nature if such acts continue to exist among this venerable institution?

In her interview, and still according to the Correio da Manhã, the former headmaster has assured that an official inquiry has been undertaken since she has already been heard, adding that, “I don’t know what happened in the meantime. However, I expect that as the prosecutor says that our Criminal Code must be modified, that he will also put the same energy into this inquiry and not leave it buried in a drawer”.

According to a source from the office of Pinto Monteiro, the PGR (Procuradoria Geral da Républica = Attorney General Office of the Portuguese Republic) received the formal complaint from the ex-headmaster and has proceeded to an official inquiry. A situation that is confirmed by the Attorney General himself, who in a statement to RTP (Portuguese State Television), said he was not aware if the sexual abuses in the institution were still going on, but that he had received and registered the complaint from Catalina Pestana and that he had forwarded it to the competent office which is now investigating the case.

Still according to the newspaper, the Ministry of Social Solidarity, which has the guardianship of the Casa Pia, did not want to comment the declarations of the ex-headmaster considering that it is necessary to safeguard the reputation of the institution and of its pupils.

Peter Namora, ex-pupil of the Casa Pia and now lawyer said he does not have any formal proof but he corroborates the declarations of Catalina Pestana guaranteeing that the pupils are seen “out” again and that they are seen “having supper and been driven around by persons that the pupils do not know” which might indicate that the sexual abuses are still going on.

Many complain that Catalina Pestana has once more put the matter on the front page, considering that one of her duties as ex-headmaster of the institution is to watch over the reputation of the Casa Pia.

How ridiculous can this be? Had she not done it, could we guarantee the total “integrity” of the institution and appropriately fight what seems to still be happening? Do we have to forget because of some old-fashioned ideas, that the most important are the children and not the reputation of an institution? Children well-being should be the first concern on this matter. Our first worry should be to verify if the statements are correct and if such is the case, we must make sure that such does not happen again. Children should look at the future with optimism and trust.

I make mine the words of Catalina Pestana: “I hope that the Attorney General will not leave this inquiry in the bottom of his drawer”!


  1. assim com a tradução feita é muito mais confortavel

  2. É...a notícia era importante demais para passar despercebida seja numa lingua seja noutra. :D