From the Independent article Pope ‘did not help girls abused by Florence priest’ (in Italian you can read Espresso’s article from which I translated the title for this post or Repubblica’s Sesso e violenze, scandalo in parrocchia).
“How much suffering there is in the world!” Pope Benedict XVI lamented in his Easter sermon yesterday, naming Darfur, Iraq, Somalia, the Congo, Lebanon and other trouble spots around the globe.
But there was no space in his list for the abused women of the parish of Regina della Pace (“Queen of Peace”) on the outskirts of Florence. For more than three years, these women have been trying to persuade the Church to take vigorous action against a parish priest whom they say persuaded them to have sex with him when they were minors, and continued to do so regularly for years.
Confronted by their testimony, the church authorities first transferred the priest to another parish, and then out of the diocese. But he remains a priest,
The victims kept their memories to themselves until chance reunions prompted them to share their stories and take them to the curia of Florence, the governing body of the church in the city, in January 2004.
They made written and oral submissions to the Archbishop of Florence and others – with the sole result that, in September 2005, Fr Cantini was transferred to another parish “for reasons of health”.
Disgusted by the failure to take their complaints seriously, the victims wrote to Pope Benedict in March 2006 demanding more serious action. In response, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, then head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, informed them that Fr Cantini had left the diocese.
Further pressure led to disciplinary measures: Fr Cantini was banned from hearing confession or celebrating Mass for five years, “and every day for one year he must recite Psalm 51” – the one that begins, “Have mercy upon me, O God … Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity.” The victims say they regard the disciplinary measures “with astonishment and pain”.
This is ridicolous! There are women (below some recordings of their experiences with the alleged pedophile priest, Fr Lelio Cantini) who claim they have been abused by a priest. And what does the priest gets? After more than 3 years? That the alleged pedophile priest was banned from hearing confession or celebrating Mass for five years, “and every day for one year he must recite Psalm 51” – the one that begins, “Have mercy upon me, O God … Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity.”?!? Please tell me that this is a joke. Please tell me that the Pope is giving us a great late April 1st joke. Please!
But I know this is the truth. And wait there is more. The article of Espresso (in Italian) also reports that Arcibishop Ennio Antonelli added in the letter to the victim (dated 17 january, I guess 2007):
Since “the happened evil cannot be undone“, the invitation is â€œto rethink in a perspective of faith the sad vicissitude in which you have been been involvedâ€, and to invoke from God “the healing of the memory”.
(the original in Italian from the newspaper article) l’invito, visto che “il male una volta compiuto non puÃ² essere annullato”, Ã¨ a “rielaborare in una prospettiva di fede la triste vicenda in cui siete stati coinvolti”, e a invocare da Dio “la guarigione della memoria”.
Now are we joking? Is this a bad nightmare? This church is turning dangerously toward evil, very evil.
And if you are still with me and what to know the answer to the question in the title “here who, how and when decided in Vatican to take away from justice the pedophile priests. You will never guess it â€¦”. Well, the answer is, as you might have already guessed, the pope.
Of course it is not me claiming so but some newspapers, among which:
Pope ‘obstructed’ sex abuse inquiry. Confidential letter (sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001) reveals Ratzinger ordered bishops to keep allegations secret, an April 2005 article of the Guardian.
Obstruction of justice? In a confidential 2001 letter, the new pope ordered bishops to keep allegations of pedophilia secret: an April 2005 news on Salon from which you can appreciate the arrogance of another evil-doer at the top of the church pyramid: The Ratzinger letter was co-signed by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, who gave an interview two years ago in which he hinted at the church’s opposition to allowing outside agencies to investigate abuse claims. “In my opinion, the demand that a bishop be obligated to contact the police in order to denounce a priest who has admitted the offence of pedophilia is unfounded,” Bertone said.
And in Italian you can find the complete 2001 letter of Ratzinger published in the Espresso article. The letter basically says that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where sexual abuse has been “perpetrated with a minor by a cleric.” It orders that “preliminary investigations” into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger’s office, which has the option of referring them back to private tribunals (church tribunals, not state tribunals!) in which the “functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests.” “Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,” Ratzinger’s letter concludes.
Now I’m not arguing about self-justice or media pillory for this alleged pedophile priest, but something very normal. According to the newspapers articles there are women who affirm that a certain priest had abused of them, shall this priest receive a fair trial in a legitimate court in the state where these abuses might have occured? I’m not arguing anything stronger than that: a public trial in which the priest can be judged like it happens for all the people in Italy.
I leave you with the recordings of the possible victims. After this recordings, do you think it is too much to ask an indepentend and fair court trial?
Fr Lelio Cantini, now in his eighties, became the parish priest of Regina della Pace in the mid-Seventies. A self-styled “charismatic”, he was accompanied by a clairvoyant woman who had visions of Jesus and drew up lists of those parishioners whom she said were the “elect of God”.
Don Lelio ruled the parish with an iron hand, banishing dissidents from Mass and forbidding them absolution. But, in private, he showed a different side: in the church’s presbytery he induced girls as young as 10 to have sex with him, explaining that this was a way of attaining “total unity with God”.
A woman of 45, married with two children, said she had suppressed all memory of the abuse the priest inflicted on her until a couple of years ago. It started, she explained, when she was aged 10. “The Prior [as Cantini insisted on being called] would call me into his office or his bedroom, get me to undress and explain that, by doing what he asked, I would realise the most complete eucharistic communion,” she said.
“He told me to think of the Madonna, who bore Jesus when she was only 12. He said I was the Beloved of the Song of Songs and that what happened between us was the same as what happened in the Garden of Eden.” She said the relationship continued for 15 years, and that remembering it even now caused her vomiting attacks. “I was absolutely incapable,” she said, “of making a free and aware choice.”
Another woman, identified by the initials D A, now in her forties, said her sexual liaison with Fr Cantini “began when I was 17 and continued until I got married. He said I was in need of affection and that he would give it to me. Then he embraced me in the name of Jesus.”