Quoted here are excerpts from the Associated Press of September 14, 2009 and published by the New York Times.
It is easy to be cynical and exaggerate the extent of abuse by clergy against children but that serves no purpose other than creating more abuse, in this case against innocent clergy who do not violate their vows or their students.
That said, I choked on the comment below about an accused child-molester being considered for sainthood since he was cleared of wrong-doing by an investigation that did not interview any victims. Incredible.
Read these excerpts or the full report yourself.
“The Associated Press has documented 73 cases with allegations of sexual abuse by priests against minors over the past decade in Italy, with more than 235 victims…”
“…Italian prelates often preyed on poor, physically or mentally disabled, or drug-addicted youths entrusted to their care…”
“…a spokesman for the diocese claimed former students had been manipulated into denouncing innocent priests
“…Verona’s late bishop, Monsignor Giuseppe Carraro — who is being considered for beatification (sainthood) — is accused of molesting a child on five separate occasions while a student at Provolo school, which he attended from age 9 to 15…”
“A diocesan probe cleared Carraro of sex abuse. But the investigation interviewed none of the alleged victims, limiting testimony to surviving members of the Congregation, other school personnel and their affiliates, and documentation from the Congregation and Verona diocese. The late bishop’s beatification process was suspended pending the investigation, but is now going ahead to the Vatican’s saint-making office.”
“Said the victim Gianni Bisoli, now 60, “the bishop started to touch me, grope me, running his hands up and down my body. I pulled away but he continued to touch me for 15, 20 minutes. I didn’t know what to do.” On a subsequent occasion, Bisoli said, the bishop tried to sodomize him with a banana. Another time, they were on the sofa and he sodomized him with his finger, offering him candy to appease him.
“The current bishop of Verona, Monsignor Giuseppe Zenti, initially accused the former students of fabricating their claims… But when one of the accused lay religious men admitted to sexual relations with students, Zenti ordered an internal investigation… The results found that some abuse occurred, albeit a fraction of what has been alleged.
“Zenti subsequently offered an apology last May, saying, “the feeling that prevails is above all one of profound solidarity with the victims of abuse. To them and their families, a humble request of forgiveness is made.”
“…no criminal or civil action is pending in Verona because the statute of limitations has expired.
“Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican prosecutor in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — which handles cases of priestly sex abuse — acknowledged that public awareness of the problem in Italy had increased as a result of the ”tsunami” of cases that came to light in the United States.
“I don’t think it’s a question of happening. It has always happened. It’s important that people talk about it, because otherwise we cannot bring the healing which the church can offer to people who need it — both the victims and perpetrators.”
“Even those with anti-clerical views acknowledge the important role the church plays in education, social services and caring for the poor. As a result, few dare to criticize it, including the mainstream independent and state-run media. In addition, there’s a certain prudishness in small-town Italy, where one just doesn’t speak about sex, much less sex between a priest and a child.”