SNAP is not surprised by the verdict handed down today in the first sexual abuse trial in the Vatican
Fr. Gabriele Martinelli was cleared of abusing his authority as a more senior seminarian to force another seminarian into “carnal acts.” The former rector of the seminary, Rev. Enrico Radice, was also cleared of charges that he covered up the senior seminarian's abuse. Troublingly, the Vatican tribunal found evidence that Fr. Martinelli had engaged in the crime of the corruption of a minor, but it said that the statute of limitations had expired.
Fr. Martinelli was the seminarian at the St. Pius X youth seminary who determined who was assigned as altar boys at papal masses. Although the complaint against the senior seminarian was known to the Pope and other Church officials in 2013, no action was taken until 2019, when the accusations were covered by the Italian media. By that time, Fr. Martinelli had already been a priest for two years.
We stand with the victim in this case, and it comes as no surprise to us that the tribunal concluded the trial by absolving both Fr. Martinelli and Rev. Radice. In our experience most internal Church proceedings protect clergy. However, we are very concerned that the Vatican court was unable to take action against Fr. Martinelli for the charges of corruption of a minor since the former seminarian has been a priest since 2017. We fear that there may be other victims who suffered at the hands of Fr. Martinelli as he was allowed to continue his rise within the Church.
We also are extremely concerned as to why the Pope did not act sooner on the warnings he received against Fr. Martinelli in 2013. It took the Vatican six years to bring an indictment, and even then we suspect it only did so in the face of public scrutiny into the case.
While the Vatican trial may have ended in disappointment for the survivor, Fr. Martinelli and Rev. Radice have also been indicted in an Italian court based on the same accusations. We hope that the secular investigation will produce a just outcome for the victim, as well as one that will protect today's children.