THE SPEAKER EXPOSES
ITALY April 16, 2010 from the newspaper “Il CORRIERE“
“The government: ‘Unspeakable smear campaign against the Pope and the Church'”
ROME – On the day of his 83rd birthday, Benedict XVI gets full and unequivocal support from Italy. The Council of Ministers in a statement “confirmed the solidarity of the government for the unspeakable defamatory campaign against the Church and the Pope.“”
A few hours later, even the highest office of the state, the Guarantor of the Italian Constitution, President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano, will join the government in expressing the same closeness to Benedict XVI.
No word of support for the Italian citizens who were victims of the clergy, almost guilty of claiming their constitutional rights from the Italian State, embarrassing its relations with the Vatican.
A few days earlier, however, another disturbing fact precedes that appeal of the Government.
It is April 2, 2010 when the then Minister of Justice Angelino Alfano, sends an inspection in the office of a magistrate in Milan out of the ordinary, Pietro Forno, the most active and experienced pioneer at the time in the field of clerical pedophilia, with already a dozen cases behind him. “LA REPUBBLICA” of April 2, 2010.
These three actions clearly dictated the position of the State in relation to the crimes of Catholic priests and the lack of attention paid to the victims. An indication that with the inspection of the Prosecutor Pietro Forno came loud and clear even to the judiciary.
That of 2010 was the first and only intervention of the Italian institutions on pedophile priests.
Although several governments have changed since 2010, with different political ideologies, no one has ever been interested in this “pandemic”, delegating in fact, as we will see later, the management of justice to the clergy.
This introductory half-page of Italian history, even if synthetic, I believe it clearly focuses on what for Italy, unlike other EU member states and beyond, was the starting point. A situation that unlike your respective countries, instead of seeing a government that mobilizes to defend the citizen, sees Italy passive, submissive and unable to take any position in front of the crimes and the power of a foreign state. With all the consequences of the case that go far beyond as we will see.
ITALY 21 January 2021
Today, I am among the founders of ECA, this elite international group of activists and professionals specialized in the protection of victims of clergy. A victim of abuse I was born in 2010 with the L’ABUSO Network, 11 years later it is enlightening that we are still the only association of survivors of clergy abuse existing in Italy. A figure that still reflects the unchanged climate since 2010.
The map that I invite you to consult via the web while I illustrate the content (it is fully interactive, clicking on the placeholders will open the tab of the respective case. Go to this link https://retelabuso.org/diocesi-non-sicure/ ), collects the cases of the last 15 – 16 years and only those Italian cases censored by the chronicle. I would like to remind colleagues that here in Italy today, there is no official data available from the Government, the only existing data is unfortunately still the one we give to Rete L’ABUSO.
But let’s start with the map, even if partial and clearly defective, at present however in Italy they are known;
YELLOW DOTS – 145 priests who have been investigated or of whom there has been no further news, whether of conviction or acquittal.
RED DOTS – 157 priests definitively convicted (3rd level of judgment)
BLACK DOTS – 10, even if I premise that this section is poorly edited for lack of news, these are foreign priests refugees under the Vatican wing in Italy.
QUADRATI BLU – 22 rehabilitation facilities (at least those known to us today) on Italian territory run independently by clergy. I will not elaborate on how the L’ABUSO Network came to discover the first facilities, it is irrelevant in this context. I emphasize, however, that our initial investigation was fully reverified by the journalist Federico Tulli, present in this session and invited as a journalist and editor to give a picture of the level of information in the country and the quality of the Italian Press, as we will see another pivotal point of the problem that he will expose in his space.
I opened the parenthesis on my colleague Federico Tulli because in addition to having produced three books on the subject, he has revised and integrated the research on these structures and produced the third in-depth book, which reveals a real hoax to the victims and to justice.
I began to suspect in about 2013 that these structures acted as a contrivance, to bluntly avoid jail time for priests.
They even called me crazy, when in front of the findings it became clear that there was a kind of tacit agreement between the State and the Church, which created in the eyes of public opinion the so-called “mirror for the larks” – because in reality those priests put under house arrest in those structures of the church, for example, contrary to what happens to all Italian citizens under house arrest, monitored at any time of day or night. The priests in these facilities, however, are entrusted directly by the Judicial Authority to the church, which takes over de facto control of the Italian state. Original and curious is the motivation given this time to EURONEWS by Marco Ermes Luparia, one of the psychologists deacons who work in these structures. Moving is the concern for the psychological rehabilitation of the priest for which the same Luparia stresses the importance that the State avoids the priest to go to prison because in addition to suffering, it would seriously compromise his rehabilitation. Equally disarming is the fact that at least the same concern is not placed on the victims of those priests.
Prison sentences in the eyes of public opinion but in reality, a holiday for the convicted, who does not even have the burden of the mass, left in full freedom of movement as confirmed by the story of Don Ruggero Conti. Convicted to the maximum sentence (for Italy) 14 years and two months for having sexually abused seven children between 10 and 12 years old, then entrusted by the Italian Justice to the clergy, ended up in one of these facilities near Rome (among other things frequented by teenagers) where theoretically he should have served his arrests. A place so poorly controlled that one morning he decided to leave Rome and return to Milan. He had enough cash at his disposal to be able to afford a cab from Rome. All he had to do was call it with the cell phone in his possession and he left in complete tranquillity. Naturally, the matter was resolved as if nothing had happened, bringing the priest back to Rome. There is no news that his house arrest has been revoked or that those who had him in custody or who helped him to escape have been prosecuted by the Italian justice system.
The in-depth study done by our colleague Tulli and Emanuela Provera, in addition to expanding the number of these facilities to 22, confirmed the thesis with a stroke of genius by the two colleagues, who in 2018 decided to do the “test of 9 by questioning” – removed the juvenile and female prisons – the remaining 191 Italian male facilities.
It turned out of 157 cases – RED DOTS final convictions on the map – that in October 2018, guests in Italian prisons resulted in only 5 priests, including only one convicted of pedophilia.
In the absence of data from the State, based on those collected during the decade of activity of the L’ABUSO Network in Italy, it emerges that about 80% of criminal proceedings end up being archived due to improbability because of many problems. In fact, this is an authentic failure of justice.
I’m afraid, dear colleagues, that the 300 cases of our map are about 10% of the tip of the Italian iceberg and although it is true that Italy has deliberately omitted a quantification at the national level, it is also true that Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Poland and so on, have quantified the phenomenon with very similar results.
From here, my Irish colleague Mark Vincent Healy, an expert in statistics, has produced on purpose for L’ABUSO Network, in the absence of an Italian figure, on the basis of the percentage data that emerged from the governmental commissions of inquiry carried out in other countries, a reliable projection of the Italian figure calculated on the basis of the Catholic population, the number of priests (much higher in Italy 50,000) and then relating it to the percentage data produced by the countries that have surveyed a figure. The result is that the scope of abuse in Italy has the greatest potential of any country. It can vary according to 2 studies – that of Richard Sipe, (Benedictine monk and psychotherapist) and that of Father Andrew M. Greeley, (Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago) – from a minimum of 200,000 current victims to 1,000,000, in Italy alone. Here the integral projection https://wp.me/p8ayDC-lBu
We have of course communicated the above data to the government in several instances, but it has never responded, unfortunately highlighting another macroscopic problem, access to institutions by citizens or associations that represent them. All this happens in spite of a parliamentary question obtained after years of proposals to various politicians who have punctually ignored it. Then deposited by the one who in fact was the only interlocutor out of 965 parliamentarians (the Honorable Matteo Mantero) who gave attention to the problem, but since November 27, 2017 sees it lying dusty and without even a schedule, on the shelves of the Republic.
I conclude here the first point and move on to the next one
Before arriving at the report “Italy” dealt with in Geneva on 25 and 26 January 2019 in the 80 section and the subsequent response that the Committee gave to that instance, I want to mention “the exemplary” ratification “Italian style” of the Lanzarote Convention, as it has more facets on the application of the legislator who once again favored the executioners to the victims.
In addition to the damage, there is also the collateral effect, since the legislator, in order to pass the constitutional approval, could not exclude only the clergy – a disputable privilege – but excluded the entire category to which the clergy belongs and, even more serious, the fact that this category, in the lay context, is that of the voluntary sector, historically the most at risk. In fact, the rule applied in this way is not only distorted in that it fails in its main preventive function. The same norm applied in this way paradoxically suggests to the predator the hunting ground “volunteerism”.
The second aspect is the introduction of the protected hearing of the victim, which in the Italian application of the Lanzarote Convention creates a double problem, the first directly related to the Convention, the second to the constitutional guarantees of the victim.
As you all know well, the last Motu proprio Vos Estis lux Mundi makes official and introduces the famous diocesan counters for victims. I don’t know about your respective countries, but in Italy they are now present in all dioceses. Each center has a lay commission, composed of retired professionals, medical psychologists, etc., accredited as former professionals, who are now freed from official obligations such as reporting when they learn of sexual violence against a minor.
And here two disturbing pictures clearly emerge:
The first concerns Lanzarote, in that the hearings of the victims who present themselves to the dioceses, are carried out by volunteers, we do not know well with what qualifications, what procedures and guarantees for the user, who act in fact above the rules of protection of the citizen, in the absence of protected hearing even during the ‘canonical investigation, in which they are denied even the assistance of their own trusted defender.
As we have said before, these diocesan commissions also have within them a consultant lawyer, the one who in case the victim disappointed by the canonical result decides to turn to the judiciary, will probably defend directly or not, in this other forum, no longer the victim, but priest and diocese.
Regardless of whether he or she hears the victim personally or another member of the diocesan commission, it is a fact that in these NON-PROTECTED hearings strategic details are acquired, such as the victim’s narration of the event, which is also written by the operator and then signed by him or her. A statement that later, as a member or consultant of the commission, the lawyer of the diocese not only has at his disposal, but could even use it in an Italian trial, as there is no regulation in that forum that guarantees to the unfortunate citizen who presents himself, what is the limit or what use can or cannot be made of that data.
A declaration that, for example, in a subsequent civil summons could even determine the moment in which the victim became aware of the damage, thus causing the lapse of the prescriptive terms (which in Italy are very short) within which the victim can claim justice in an Italian court. In fact, it is enough to make the victim lose time waiting for an ecclesiastical judgment and he will no longer be able to claim any rights.
As a proof of the dramatic situation due only to the default of a State that has been complicit in the pedophilia of priests for 11 years, the last Italian case that dates back to a few weeks ago, is the one of ENNA (Sicily);
“Denounces abuse to diocese that transfers priest to north, victim turns to police“. The alleged victim denounced for years to the ecclesiastical authorities “Pedophilia Enna, all the complaints of the alleged victim“.
And thanks to the lifesaver of article 4, point 4 of the Lateran Pacts, the bishop who moved him, in addition to not being required to make statements to the judiciary, simply stating that that information is confidential because it belongs to his ministry, and here is that the clergyman is not even co-defendant, but a simple witness with the privilege of being able to remain silent to the magistrate.
I ask for a moment of patience and conclude with the last chapter.
3) The United Nations Child Protection Committee;
following the instance of the L’ABUSO Network, in February 2019 issued to Italy recommendations that except for the first point “Observatory to counter pedophilia and child pornography” apparently positive, I have to do a mea culpa because in the report that I presented in 2019 to the UN I forgot to articulate the serious problems also within the observatory of the Italian State, which, among other things, has as a consultant (presumably also paid) a Catholic priest who has never denounced a fellow pedophile, because even today, according to the last motu proprio of the Pope, he cannot. An almost virtual observatory, lacking in concrete initiatives at the national level, lacking in dialogue with local realities and practically useless because, with the help of some of my colleagues, we asked for data, which the observatory was not able to produce.
Here is the evidence from my 2016 survey of the observatory. https://wp.me/p8ayDC-i6G
Closed parenthesis, before continuing with the recommendations issued by the C.R.C. to Italy, which I point out has in common with the Vatican not only the marked passion for pedophile priests, but also the vice of signing agreements for which it then does not assume the burden, as in the case of the Lanzarote Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which from the Vatican awaits response from May 2018 and from Italy from February 2019.
Situations on which my colleagues I want to stimulate a reflection on the fact that perhaps the Committee should take a strong position because, as amply demonstrated by the Italian case, they were signed almost in bad faith and it would seem that the only purpose is that of accreditation.
In order to avoid any misunderstanding, in particular to the colleagues from the United Nations who are present, I would like to point out that my criticism is not at all a criticism of the Convention, on the contrary, I want to underline its importance in this particular Italian case, because in the total absence of the Institutions, the Convention is the only reality we can fortunately rely on.
This is why I am raising the issue, colleagues, to emphasize especially in this now long moment of “Italian stalemate” that has lasted for 11 years, and that already for two or three, the association that I preside over is in fact assisting – in addition to survivors who were victims decades ago – also victims abused after 2010 by priests and by the inertia of the Italian State that not only remaining helpless has allowed it, but that still does not even give them justice.
The case of our client Alessandro Battaglia (Don Mauro Galli sentenced to 6 years and 4 months in the first instance and acquitted by the church) is striking and with many more facets than those I will mention, where yes, it is true that the victim has been compensated (fortunately), but only € 100,00 (against the € 450,000 provided by the tables) and in addition, compensated not for damage suffered, but not to make it a civil party in the process, and leave out of trouble and the press, diocese and bishop. An agreement between the parties so distressing that the same Public Prosecutor Lucia Minutella, disputes in the blatant insufficiency even in the trial.
I am sorry if I have spoken at length, but it was necessary and I conclude by saying that although I am perfectly aware that the UN in this case does not have a coercive power over Italy, given the serious evidence that has emerged that beyond the treaties signed, draw especially in their application a dramatic situation on which I believe, at least there is a claim that what has already been applied and ratified, is reviewed and reapplied in an effective way that can be really preventive.
End of the report, thank you all for your attention – Zanardi