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Sexual abuse in the Church: Italy speaks out against cover-up and silence

Despite the fact that the Pope is the natural leader of the Italian Episcopalians as Bishop of Rome, the most effective wall to date to defend silence and the policy of concealment of horrors consummated by pedophile priests in Italy, has been the constant postponement of the bishops’ conference of an in-depth analysis of this tragedy and the rejection of those who seek to investigate the diocesan archives.

In France, a commission established that 216 thousand minors were abused in 70 years by priests.

In Germany another commission discovered thousands of cases unleashing an internal explosion and putting the Church practically in a state of assembly with a “synodal path”.

In Spain the issue is the order of the day due to the initiative of the government itself to investigate. Before, in Ireland, the issue caused a revolution in the most Catholic country in Europe that has greatly damaged the Church before its faithful.

Research

In Italy, most bishops have opposed a thorough investigation. In May the Episcopal Conference will meet and decide if it is worth investigating once and for all, in addition to electing a new president who should initiate an era of openness.

Catholic groups have formed an association that has proposed map cases of sexual abuse by priests in Italy, also using the materials available in the Italian justice and journalistic archives.

The Internet database will be presented next Friday. Typing in the network https://chiesapedofilia.left.it/ you will be able to read the first 50 cases with more than 140 victims.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recently apologized for sexual abuse committed by members of the Church. Photo: AP

Another 300 cases are being verified and will be incorporated in a few weeks. All possible data will be put from the name of the members of the clergy accused of sexual abuse, which in the case of minors, psychiatrists describe as “a psychic homicide” due to the magnitude of the damage they cause to the victims.

The El Abuso network, founded by Francesco Zanardi, himself the victim of a pedophile priest in the city of Savona when he was a child, and the weekly Left, sponsor the website.

Testimony of horror

the morning The Messaggerothe oldest and most widespread newspaper in Rome, publishes this Wednesday a tremendous testimony of Eric Zattoni, 40, son of the pedophile priest Pietro Tosi, who raped his mother when she was 14 years old.

Via Zoom, Eric offered his direct testimony to the victims’ seminar organized by Catholic groups.

“I live in the province of Ferrara. My mother was abused in 1981. My family tried to report the episode to the Bishop of Ferrara, Monsignor Franceschi, who first of all suggested not to say anything to anyone. My mother and her brother went to a lawyer to make a case against the pedophile priest, but the diocese’s response was a threat. We lived in a house owned by the Curia and the threat was eviction, which later happened. They kicked me and my mom out of the house,” he recounted.

In February 2019, Pope Francis led a congress on the scourge of sexual abuse.  Photo: AP

In February 2019, Pope Francis led a congress on the scourge of sexual abuse. Photo: AP

Only after a long time, in 2010, the family turned to the courts, when in Italy the topic of sexual abuse of priests in the world was spread in the media.

“But my mother’s rape was from 1981, a prescribed crime. I submitted to the DNA test, which was also done by the priest Pietro Tosi after confess the abuseEric said.

The pedophile priest “continued as a priest, he was never suspended by any bishop although everyone knew. I kept insisting when he was already an adult and they finally took him away from Ferrara,” he complained.

“No one did anything to clean up this crime. I grew up with my mother, a very brave woman on whose face I still read the trauma she suffered and her condition as a person abandoned to herself, that she was just a ragazina when she was raped by the priest Tosi, my father. Three Popes passed, five Bishops of Ferra and several Cardinals of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, first of all Joseph Ratzinger (today Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), who knew what had happened in Ferrara”.

Other European episcopal conferences agreed to open their archives. But not those who keep the secrets of the Italian bishops, whose most prominent character is the Pope himself, Bishop of Rome.

Victims of sexual abuse by priests, in a protest at the Vatican, in 2019. Photo: AP

Victims of sexual abuse by priests, in a protest at the Vatican, in 2019. Photo: AP

Another case

Another testimony was that of Cristina, the mother of a boy who attended the Catholic scouts in the parish of Rozzano, in the Milan area. “As practicing Catholics we had absolute faith in the ecclesiastical authorities. We turned to them with my husband in 2011 to denounce the horror of the abuse my son had suffered, ”she said. He had been raped by Father Mauro Galli.

“We made the serious mistake of not resorting to the police and justice,” he laments. Cristina and her husband collided with the rubber wall of the silence and evasiveness.

The rapist priest had been transferred to another parish thirty kilometers away “and put back in contact with the boys,” Cristina recalled. “We understood that the Church would not do anything and we went to the police.”

At first they went to the parish priest who called the vicar of the area, who is currently none other than the Archbishop of Milan, Monsignor Mario Delpini.

The intervention of civil justice put the case on its tracks. The Milan court sentenced Father Mauro Galli in first and second instance for sexual violence against a minor. Her mother, Cristina, said that her son has received long treatments and that she even tried to commit suicide.

“Our case demonstrates that despite the emphatic proclamations, the Church does not care so much about the victims but about defending the reputation of the institution.”

Cristina said that with her husband they sent desperate letters, first to Benedict XVI and then to Pope Francis, “but no one answered us.” She said, “I don’t want to leave the Church, but to remain in a diverse Church.”

Rome, correspondent

CB

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