The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Italy sees 130 priests investigated over abuse; victims respond
Statement by Peter Isely of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (414-429-7259)
Our hearts ache for these brave, wounded Italian victims, especially because it seems that church officials often have a cozy relationship with secular authorities and are able to keep a lid on these crimes and cover ups. Gradually, however, the courage of victims will overcome these obstacles and make the church, and Italy, safer for children.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 21 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)
Italy sees 130 priests investigated over abuse
By Nick Squires in Rome
A report by prosecutors said that not one of the cases was referred to the police by the local bishop.
Sergio Cavaliere, a lawyer who has compiled evidence on the cases, said: "It's an alarming figure if you consider that it's only the tip of the iceberg, if you think about all the cases that haven't shown up in the media or that haven't gone to court."
A prosecutor in Milan, Pietro Forno, who has won 10 convictions for paedophile priests, claimed that police suspected the existence of a "network of clergy who have a passion for minors".
He said abusive priests had been shuffled between dioceses, where they were free to molest more children.
"It seems that some chose the priesthood with the aim of being close to children," said Mr Forno, the head of a unit which investigates sex crimes.
While hundreds of alleged victims of paedophile clergy have come forward since the start of the year in Austria, Holland, Switzerland and Pope Benedict's native Germany, Italy has remained relatively untouched by the crisis.
But signs are emerging that Italian priests sexually abused children in their care and were protected from investigation by bishops who were desperate not to harm the reputation of the Church.
Allegations of abuse have been reported in Rome, Bologna and Bolzano, in the German-speaking Sud Tyrol region.
In Verona, in the north, almost 70 deaf men and women have claimed they were raped and molested over a period of about 30 years at a Church-run institute for deaf children.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests