Provolo Institute Zero Tolerance
Title: Argentine clergy abuse victims in Rome, one year after Vatican summit
Author: Hannah Brockhaus
Publisher: Catholic News Agency (CNA)
Rome, Italy, Feb 21, 2020 / 12:49 pm (CNA).- One year after the Vatican hosted a summit on the abuse crisis, three former students of an Argentine institute which cared for deaf children, and from which two priests were convicted last year of sexual abuse, have traveled to Rome to ask the Vatican for files on accused priests.
Two Catholic priests were sentenced to 40 years in prison after being convicted in November of sexually abusing students at the now-closed Antonio Provolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired children in Argentina’s Mendoza province.
Three victims, who are former students of the institute, were accompanied by around 18 other victims of clergy sexual abuse, activists, and lawyers at a gathering near the Vatican Feb. 21.
The group was at the United Nations in Geneva earlier in the week, where they gave presentations to the UN committees against torture, on disability rights, and on the rights of the child, according to Denise Buchanan of advocacy group Ending Clergy Abuse.
The Argentina case was presented “so that they can discuss it in the committees and pressure the Vatican to do whatever they need to do to make this stop from that end,” Buchanan told CNA.
One of the young victims from Argentina, Claudia Labeguerie, told CNA they went to the UN to “denounce the pope and the Vatican for cover-up, and then we came here to Rome to tell [about] the report.”
Labeguerie, who is deaf and uses sign language, spoke with CNA through her sister, Erica. Labeguerie said she suffered “abuse and torture by priests and sisters” at the Provolo Institute.
Buchanan, who was in Rome during the 2019 Vatican summit on abuse, said the Argentine victims “want Pope Francis to know that right here, right now is the time for there to be some reparation for them.”
She described reparation as including financial support for the victims, many of whom came from poor families. She also said they are looking for papal acknowledgment and changes to Church law.
The 2019 convictions in Argentina were for crimes which took place from 2004 to 2016. The cases involved 10 students, though around 20 have made abuse accusations.
Noting that some of the abuse occurred as recently as four years ago, Buchanan said they hope “people understand that [abuse is] not a past issue, it’s a present issue.”
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