New abuse victims of Roman Catholic Church uncovered in Italy

Church Times [London, England]

November 25, 2022

By Rebecca Paveley

Dozens more children and adults come forward

A report examining the number of cases of sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Church in Italy uncovered at least 89 victims and 68 people accused of abuse during the past two years. Sixty-one of those abused were children aged from ten to 18, and 12 cases involved children under the age of ten. Sixteen of the alleged victims were classed as vulnerable adults.

The alleged abusers include clergy, lay people, and members of religious orders.

In total, the Church said that it had more than 600 cases of abuse by priests on file at the Vatican, dating back to 2000.

The limited two-year accounting of cases drew on data only from “listening centres” set up by dioceses in 2019 to receive complaints of abuse, including abuse by lay people as well as clergy.

The report, Protecting, Preventing, Educating, was published on Thursday of last week by the Italian Bishops’ Conference, and it is its first attempt to publish data on sex abuse in the Church.

Francesco Zanardi, who set up Italy’s main survivors’ association, Rete L’Abuso, said that the short time-frame for the report was a “joke” and excluded large amounts of other data, including from his own organisation and magistrates. “The report is shamefully inadequate,” he said.

His organisation has estimated that there are some one million survivors of abuse in Italy.

During a press conference, Archbishop Lorenzo Ghizzoni, head of the child protection office of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, said that the report was “just a start”. A further report, looking at the period 2001-2020, is also being prepared, the bishops said, although there is no date set for its completion or publication.

About two-thirds of dioceses in Italy have set up listening centres, and 20,000 people have taken part in safeguarding training, the report also said.

The report was launched a day before Italy’s national day of prayer for victims and survivors of abuse.