Italian victims of priestly abuse making stand

Via The Guardian:

Pope Benedict XVI is facing growing pressure over his handling of paedophile priests as new cover-ups come to light in Italy, the country with the greatest concentration of Roman Catholic clerics.

After the latest allegations – that Benedict took no action in the US when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s enforcer – the church is now “terrified” as more victims stand up to be counted in Italy, according to Roberto Mirabile, head of La Caramella Buona, an Italian anti-abuse group. “With the scandals erupting abroad, we will see a huge growth in victims’ groups in Italy in coming weeks,” said Mirabile yesterday. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict handled abuse cases at the Vatican for 24 years before he became pope in 2005.

“We are likely to discover that the Vatican worked even harder in Italy with bishops than elsewhere to hide cases, simply because the contact was closer and the church is so powerful in Italy,” Mirabile added.

Sergio Cavaliere, an Italian lawyer who has documented 130 cases of clerical paedophilia, also believes that the Vatican’s backyard could follow Ireland, the United States and Germany in producing a wave of abuse revelations. “The cases I have found are just the tip of the iceberg given the reluctance of many victims to come forward until now,” said Cavaliere. “And in no single case did the local bishop alert police to the suspected abuse.”

Another startling development is how recent most of the allegations are, unlike the decades-old cases in Munich and Milwaukee that Benedict was last week accused of failing to act on.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, who investigates abuse accusations passed on to the Vatican, denied this month that abuse had reached “dramatic proportions” in Italy, but he was concerned about “a certain culture of silence” among Italy’s 50,000 priests.

In February, the Vatican opened an investigation into allegations by 67 former pupils at a school for the deaf in Verona that 24 priests, brothers and lay religious men abused pupils from the 1950s to the 1980s. Three of the accusers repeated their claims on Italian prime-time television on Friday.

In a case recalling the accusations against Father Lawrence Murphy in Milwaukee, who was claimed to have abused up to 200 deaf children, one Italian former pupil claimed that priests had sodomised him so relentlessly that he came to feel “as if I were dead”.

A second pupil has accused Verona’s late bishop, Monsignor Giuseppe Carraro, who is being considered for beatification, of molesting him.

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