Archbishop accused of abuse cover-up

By Philip Willan
Times (UK)
July 3, 2017

The Vatican announced that Luis Ladaria Ferrera, a Spanish Jesuit, would lead the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

[Non denunciò il prete pedofilo: quell’ombra nel passato del nuovo capo del Sant’Uffizio - La Repubblica]

The Pope’s battle to reform the Catholic Church risks a serious setback as allegations emerge that his choice for leader of the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog failed to report a serial sex abuser, allowing the defrocked priest to commit new crimes.

On Saturday the Vatican announced that Luis Ladaria Ferrer, a Spanish Jesuit, would lead the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He succeeds Cardinal Gerhard Müller of Germany, who was denied another five-year term because he was perceived to be dragging his feet on action against paedophile priests, and is thought to oppose the Pope’s compassionate approach to sexual morality.

Archbishop Ladaria wrote to the bishop of Foggia in 2012 instructing him not to divulge the reasons why Father Gianni Trotta had been stripped of his priesthood “so as to avoid scandal”, according to claims published today in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and the online edition of L’Espresso magazine. The letter, written in Latin, was allegedly signed by William Joseph Levada, the American cardinal who was then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and by Archbishop Ladaria, his deputy.

The congregation received complaints against Trotta in 2009 and three years later found him guilty of sexually abusing minors, demoting him from the priesthood but failing to inform the Italian authorities.

Church officials are not obliged to report allegations of abuse by priests to the judicial authorities, under a 1929 treaty between Italy and the Vatican, but the letter said that the local bishop could publicise the accusations “if there is a danger of minors being abused”.

Trotta continued to present himself as a priest and became the coach of a youth football team, where he is alleged to have abused about a dozen boys aged 11 and 12. “If the congregation and Ladaria had informed the police, these children would have been safe,” said Emiliano Fittipaldi, the L’Espresso journalist who published details of the letter. “He concealed serious crimes from the Italian police until a few years ago. He allowed dangerous people to remain at large. This is Ladaria, there is a shadow over him from the very beginning of his new appointment.”

Trotta was sentenced to eight years imprisonment in 2015 for sexual violence against an 11-year-old boy and for the production and distribution of child pornography. He faces further charges of abusing another 11 children.

Greg Burke, a Vatican spokesman, said yesterday that he had no comment on the allegations.

Controversy about Archbishop Ladaria’s appointment comes as the Church faces mounting conservative opposition to the Pope’s reforms, with hardliners accusing him of heresy. Plans to reform Vatican finances are also in disarray as Cardinal George Pell, their architect, prepares to return to Australia to face sex offence charges.


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