Italian priest who was reported to Pope Francis years ago by deaf survivors in Verona is arrested for recent abuse of children in Argentina

December 1, 2016 – Response by Anne Barrett Doyle, Co-Director, (781-439-5208 cell)


Argentine authorities arrested this week Father Nicola Corradi, S.M., an Italian priest reported to the Vatican in 2008 or 2009 and again in 2014 by deaf survivors in Verona, Italy. Now 82, Corradi is accused of a range of more recent abuses in Argentina, including forcing hearing-impaired children, ages 10-12, to have oral sex with each other. The alleged crimes occurred at the Antonio Provolo Institute for Deaf Children in the Mendoza province of Argentina.

Authorities charged Corradi, and four other adults, including Rev. Horacio Hugo Corbacho S.M., of molesting eight children at the school. Since the arrest, a total of around 60 children have been identified as possible victims.

In May 2014, an Italian survivors' group issued a public plea (see 1, 2 and 3) to Pope Francis to bring to justice Corradi and 15 or so other reported child molesters who had worked at Istituto Provolo, a school for deaf children in Verona, Italy. The survivors’ plea to the Pope included the alarming news that Corradi and three other alleged Verona abusers were currently working at the order's two schools for deaf children in Argentina (one in La Plata and the other in Mendoza).

Although he knew or should have known (1, 2) that deaf children in his home country were in immediate peril, it appears that the Pope took no action. Neither did the local Church ordinaries: Héctor Rubén Aguer, archbishop of La Plata since 2000; José María Arancibia, archbishop of Mendoza between 1996 and 2012; and Arancibia's successor, current archbishop Carlos Maria Franzini. Survivors claim (1, 2) that the archbishops knew of Corradi's alleged crimes in Italy. In any case, they should have known: before granting Corradi faculties to work in La Plata or Mendoza, a Google search would have revealed instantly the grave allegations of a child sex ring and dozens of victims at the school for deaf children run by Corradi and his colleagues in Verona, Italy.

(The horrible story of the Verona victims received worldwide press attention in 2009 and 2010. More than 65 deaf men and women have reported being sodomized and assaulted as children by numerous priests at the Verona school. )

Comments by BishopAccountability

Words fail. It is appalling and heartbreaking that Corradi was not stopped by Pope Francis or by other Church authorities. Corradi’s presence at the school in Mendoza was no secret.

Because of the Church’s inaction, Corradi appears to have been able to replicate exactly the grotesque situation he enjoyed in Verona – a ring of child molesters in charge of utterly defenseless children who could neither hear nor speak.

When the crimes at the school for the deaf in Verona were revealed in 2009 and 2010, the world was shocked. Corradi and his colleagues escaped criminal charges in Italy because the statute of limitations had expired. But every reasonable person assumed that these priests would never find work near children again.

If the allegations are true, the Pope must accept responsibility for the unimaginable suffering of these new victims.

No other pope has spoken as passionately about the evil of child sex abuse as Francis. No other pope has invoked "zero tolerance" as often. No other pope has promised accountability of Church superiors. Today, in light of these horrific revelations, the Pope’s assurances seem empty indeed. To quote from his remarks to U.S. victims in 2015: “God weeps.”

At the very least, Pope Francis must immediately follow through on the promise of his June Motu Proprio. Archbishop Aguer of La Plata and Archbishop Franzini of Mendoza exemplify the disastrous negligence to which the Pope referred. The Pope should suspend both men now and begin an immediate and sweeping investigation of their handling of allegations and accused clerics.


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