The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, June 18, 2010
“Well-connected” Italian priest faces abuse trial; Sex abuse victims respond
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747)
We are grateful that Fr. Gelmini will face a secular trial. Sadly, the secular justice system seems to be the only way the truth about predatory priests and corrupt bishops ever surfaces.
This pattern – a well-connected, powerful cleric long engaged in ‘good deeds’ yet also long molesting children – is not uncommon. (The best US example is New York’s Father Bruce Ritter.)
We aren’t psychologists. But we suspect that deep down, some child molesting clerics know they are committing heinous offenses against children, and try to ‘compensate’ for their horrific crimes by performing extensive good works. Others speculate that some child molesting clerics - hoping to create a positive image, win powerful allies and avoid getting caught – use their connections and widely-acclaimed ‘charity’ efforts to intimidate victims into staying silent, by fostering the impression that they are “untouchable.”
Finally, it’s clear that some predators seek out kids who are less likely to report abuse or be believed if they do. This includes kids who have troubles with parents, drugs or the law.
Any or all of these factors may be at work in the case of Fr. Gelmini.
We commend the 12 who have reported this cleric and are working to expose his crimes. It always takes courage for child sex abuse victims to speak up. But it’s especially hard in a nation like Italy and when the predator is someone as prominent as Gelmini.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 9,000 members. 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)
Eminent Italian ex-priest to stand trial for abuse
ROME - Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:44am EDT
(Reuters) - Former priest Pierino Gelmini, one of Italy's most high-profile and politically well-connected Catholics, was ordered on Friday to stand trial on charges of sexual abuse at a drug rehabilitation center, his lawyer said.
Twelve men who were residents of one of his drug rehabilitation centers have accused him of sexually abusing them, some when they were teenagers.
Gelmini, who has denied all charges, was defrocked by the Vatican at his own request two years ago, a move he said would allow him to defend himself better.
The trial of Gelmini, 86, who has often appeared on national television, is expected to start next year in the central city of Terni, near one of his drug rehabilitation centers.
Gelmini, who was indicted at the end of an investigation that took several years, has counted powerful allies in Italian politics among his supporters.
When he turned 80, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi gave a speech at his birthday celebration. Maurizio Gasparri, the head of Berlusconi's party in the Senate, once called Gelmini "one of the few heroes of our time."
Compared with countries such as the United States and Germany, Italy has had relatively few cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests and some observers believe this is because the Church still wields enormous power.
In March, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, an official at the Vatican department that investigates abuse cases, said he was worried about "a certain culture of silence which I feel is still too widespread in the country (Italy)."
Gelmini, known most commonly in Italy as "Father Pierino," founded his "Comunita Incontro" in 1963 and the group has nearly 200 centers in Italy helping drug addicts. It also has operations as far away as Bolivia and Thailand.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests