False Churches, False Brethren, False Gospels
From The Times
March 23, 2010
Victims of Catholic clergy sex abuse in Italy form support group
Richard Owen, Rome
Victims of sex abuse by clergy in Italy have formed an association. It
is to hold its first meeting in September in Verona, where it emerged
last year that dozens of children at a religious institute for the deaf
had been abused by priests over 30 years.
Marco Lodi Rizzini, spokesman for the association, said: “Many people
are ashamed to have been subjected to violence, even though the fault
was not theirs.” He told reporters: “Our initiative is aimed at
encouraging them to come out into the open, and then justice can take
Last year 15 Italians, now aged between 40 and 70, testified that they
had been abused at the Verona institute. Monsignor Bruno Fasani,
spokesman for the Verona diocese, said that the cases would now be
examined by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Other cases have come to light in Bologna, Florence, Rome and Ferrara.
Last week Karl Golser, the bishop of the northern diocese of Bolzano,
set up an e-mail address for those who wished to report abuse,
expressing his “sincere regret” to all victims.
Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, yesterday wrote to Pope
Benedict XVI to congratulate him on his pastoral letter to Irish
bishops on the sex-abuse crisis, describing it as an “extraordinarily
effective response” to “difficult situations” that had been used for
“an attack on the Church”.
Mr Berlusconi, who faces key regional elections at the weekend that are
being seen as a test of his popularity, has sought to retrieve lost
Catholic support after a series of sex scandals last year led some
Italian Catholic publications to condemn his “immoral behaviour”.
At one stage Il Giornale, the newspaper that forms part of Mr
Berlusconi’s media empire, attacked an Italian Catholic editor critical
of the Prime Minister as a “hypocrite”, claiming that he was a
“notorious homosexual” convicted of harassment. It later admitted that
this was untrue.
Mr Berlusconi, who maintains that his relations with the Vatican were
not affected by the scandals in his private life last year, told the
Pope that his letter was “only the latest example of your great
He said that Italians held the Pope in affection and esteem and were
able to “distinguish between human errors, of which history is full,
and the enormous fruits of goodness to which our Christian roots gave
birth and to which they continue to give birth”.
Angelo Bagnasco, head of the Italian bishops, condemned clerical
paedophilia as “criminal and hateful” but said that it could not be
allowed to “cast a shadow” on the “luminous” 2,000-year history of the