Victims of Catholic clergy sex abuse in Italy form support group

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Pastor Dale Morgan

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Mar 23, 2010, 6:06:03 AM3/23/10
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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 its course.”

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 charisma”.

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 Church.

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