Italian clerical sex abuse victims allege cover-up


THE ITALIAN victims advocacy group, La Caramella Buona, has accused the Catholic Church of systematically covering up recent clerical sex abuse offences in Italy.

Speaking to leftist daily Il Fatto, yesterday lawyer Sergio Cavaliere claimed that in the last two years alone there had been 130 legal cases involving allegations of paedophilia against Italian priests.

“No doubt, we will discover that the Vatican worked with the bishops with even greater alacrity in Italy than in the rest of the world in order to hide the cases, for the good reason that the church is so powerful here in Italy and contact [with the church] is so close,” said Roberto Mirabile of La Carmella Buona.

Mr Cavaliere, who has handled cases on behalf of Italian victims of clerical sex abuse, claims that the figure of 130 may well represent “just the tip of the iceberg”, adding: “In not one of these 130 cases did the local bishop report the alleged offence to the police”.

The lawyer’s comments would appear to support the accusations made last week by Milan-based public prosecutor, Pietro Forno, a state attorney who has long specialised in paedophile and sex abuse crimes.

In an interview with the Berlusconi family-owned daily, Il Giornale, Mr Forno said that, in his experience, sex-abuse allegations against priests were never initiated “by a complaint from the ecclesiastical authorities”, but rather by complaints from the families of the victims.

Mr Forno’s allegations come in the wake of the publication in Italy of Il Peccato Nascosto, (The Hidden Sin).

In particular, the book accuses Pope Benedict of remaining silent in relation to the Italian cases, while in his pastoral letter to the Irish he pointed an accusatory finger at the Irish bishops’ mishandling of the clerical sex-abuse issue.

It seems likely that the clerical sex-abuse scandal will raise itself during the pope’s pastoral visit to Malta in two weeks time.

Yesterday, a Maltese church run “response team” confirmed that it had received 84 allegations of child abuse involving 45 Maltese priests over the last 11 years.