Abuse Survivors Protest Vatican
Title: Clergy Abuse Survivors Mark Summit Anniversary With Protest at Vatican
Author: Edward Pentin
Publisher: National Catholic Register
According to the victims, there has been insufficient progress in making meaningful changes since the 2019 summit.
VATICAN CITY — A group of clerical abuse survivors gathered in Rome on Feb. 21, one year after the Vatican summit of bishops on clerical sex abuse, to accuse Pope Francis of knowing about the abuse of Argentine deaf children by an Italian priest but not acting to stop it.
The group, who included some of the Argentinian survivors as well as advocacy leaders for abuse victims, also said little progress had been made since the Feb. 21-24 summit last year on protection of minors in the Church.
In a Feb. 13 statement, the survivors argued that the Vatican and Pope Francis could have acted to prevent the widespread sexual and physical violence perpetrated against them at the Antonio Provolo Institute, an educational and religious institution for the deaf in the province of Mendoza, Argentina.
More than 20 deaf victims testified last year to being sexually assaulted and physically abused at the Institute from 2005 to 2016, some from the age of five. Nine more alleged offenders and are expected to go to trial, including two nuns, later this month.
“The Holy See and Pope Francis were notified repeatedly by Corradi’s Italian victims that the priest had transferred to Argentina, where he again was working at schools for deaf children,” maintained the advocacy group for abuse survivors, Ending Clergy Abuse, in a Feb. 13 press release.
The group, which included some of the Italian deaf survivors from Verona, said the Pope and Vatican officials “knew of the abuse” but continued to “enable the obstruction of justice” by sending two Vatican envoys to investigate the allegations in 2017 rather than “cooperate fully with the criminal investigation.” Instead, they said, the envoys “withheld crucial information from prosecutors.”
The abuse survivors, along with representatives from Xumek, a Mendoza-based human rights organization, Ending Clergy Abuse: Global Justice Project (ECA), The Archangel Foundation and BishopAccountability.org, had come to Rome after many of them had spent three days meeting with U.N. officials in Geneva where they presented evidence from their own abuse and human rights violations.
They argued that the Holy See had violated at least two U.N. human rights treaties to which it is a signatory, and that some of the crimes in Mendoza occurred after the Holy See was explicitly rebuked and warned by the U.N. in 2014 for “systematically” placing the Church’s reputation over the protection of child victims.
Meeting on Feb. 21 in front of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, they called for a meeting with the Pope, and to have access to their files in the CDF now that the “pontifical secret” has been lifted — one of a series of measures that came out of the February summit.
Measures Taken Since the Summit
The Pope lifted the pontifical secret restriction in December so that documents in a penal trial can be accessed by authorities and interested parties (but not the public). The pontifical secret is a rule of confidentiality protecting sensitive information regarding Church governance, similar to “classified” or “confidential” documents in civil governments.
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