Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Italian clerical abuse victims 'terrified'

Italian clerical abuse victims 'terrified'
'We will help them come out,' US group says
08 June, 18:25

(ANSA) - Vatican City, June 8 - Italian victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests are afraid to reveal their identities for fear of repercussions in their private and working lives, a United States victims group told a news conference near the Vatican Tuesday.

"We contacted several Italian victims of paedophile priests and we invited them to come here today but they are terrified," members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) told reporters.

"They don't feel safe in coming out because, they explained to us, they are afraid of repercussions on their family or professional life," the members said.

But SNAP is ready to help them set up a group in Italy.

"We're going to have private meetings with them and on those occasions we will share our experience and know-how to show them how to create a victims network here too," the members said.

"At that point we are sure Italian victims will find the courage to come out too".

The Vatican recently said there have been some 100 canon trials over the last decade but did not say how many victims or possible cover-ups there had been or whether the paedophiles were reported to authorities.

SNAP and other groups have demanded that Pope Benedict XVI do more to punish offenders and make sure abuse and cover-ups can never happen again.

Benedict is expected to use a meeting of world priests on Wednesday and Thursday to issue a fresh apology but SNAP said there should be more emphasis on "justice for offenders, not forgiveness from victims". The Vatican has been responding with increasing openness to the abuse scandals that first emerged in the US in 2002 before spreading to Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Germany and Italy.

Critics have accused the pope of failing to take proper action when he was head of the doctrinal office that deals with paedophilia cases.

The Vatican has said Benedict, on the contrary, made it easier to punish offenders as well as preventing paedophiles from becoming priests.

The pontiff has met with victims of paedophile priests in the US, Australia and, most recently, Malta where he is said to have wept as he prayed with them.

The Vatican recently published the guidelines it has been using since 2003, stressing all cases are reported to the police as soon as possible.

It has also said that Benedict will be able to defrock paedophiles immediately.

Ten days ago Italy's top bishop Angelo Bagnasco admitted there was a "possibility" that some of the canon law abuse trials in Italy may have involved cover-ups.

On May 31 a victim of a paedophile priest in the town of Porto Santa Rufina near Rome accused the local bishop, Msgr Gino Reali, of covering for the priest, Father Ruggero Conti. The public record of abuse cases in Italy has been emerging slowly.

Last month a priest went on trial in Savona for alleged sexual violence against a 12-year-old girl.

Then a 73-year-old Milan priest, Father Domenico Pezzini, known for his support of gay rights, was arrested for allegedly abusing a 13-year-old boy.

No comments: