January 24, 2018
By Claire Giangravè
Pope Francis faced no small amount of blowback in Chile last week over a sexual abuse controversy that boils down to whom you chose to believe – victims of a pedophile priest accusing a bishop of knowing about the abuse and covering it up, or the bishop himself, who’s vigorously denied those charges.
The pope made it as clear as possible that he believes the bishop, which has, in turn, infuriated the accusers and sparked wide commentary around the world.
Now there’s another “Who do you believe?” dilemma waiting for him in his own back yard, in the Southern Italian region of Sicily, as another high-profile sexual abuse case heads to trial.
The drama pivots on the charismatic lay leader of the Catholic Culture and Environment Association (ACCA), Piero Alfio Capuana – called ‘Archangel’ by the group’s members – who was arrested in early August of last year for the sexual abuse of at least six underage girls and possibly more over the span of 25 years.
The group is listed as a ‘civil association’ and has up to 5,000 followers, who still meet in the little-known municipality of Aci Bonacorsi, located inside the Diocese of Acireale on the Italian island of Sicily.
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