Age after abuse

The abuse scandal is now preoccupying Italy, the country's bishops and their primate – the pope. Cautiously but unequivocally, Benedict XVI made use of the. his address to the Bishops' Conference, which has just met, to call for an open approach to the ie.

"The will for a new age of evangelization does not hide the wounds from which the Church is marked because of the weakness and sin of some members," he said. The church must learn again to repent and accept purification, according to the pope's words. Benedict XVI. also affirmed that in dealing with sexual abuse, not only forgiveness but also justice is necessary. The secretary general of the bishops' conference, Bishop Mariano Crociata, had previously quantified the cases of abuse in the Italian church for the first time and had spoken of about 100 canonical proceedings in the past ten years. Crociata left open how many of those cases ended in conviction. At the same time, he pointed out that the bishops' conference would not set up a special commission to deal with cases of abuse by clerics. The guidelines of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as well as the pope's letter to the Irish Church, already contain all the instructions necessary for such an undertaking. With regard to cooperation with government agencies, Crociata stressed that Italian legislation does not include an obligation to report cases of abuse. However, this in no way precludes cooperation, the secretary general said. That the ie of abuse has now also reached the Italian church was already made clear by conference chairman Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco in his opening address to the plenary session. In it, he affirmed that the Italian church would "not compromise"; the victims must be the center of attention. The Genoese pastor pointed out that the Italian bishops had already been making efforts for several years to more carefully select and train candidates for the priesthood. Bagnasco also stressed that everything possible was being done to promote confidence in the Church.

Media report on abuse These statements did not find a great echo in the Italian press. The two largest national dailies, "La Repubblica" and "Corriere della Sera," reported on the bishops' meeting only on the back pages. Both papers also mentioned that the German Bishops' Conference was setting up a special commission for cases of abuse, but without linking this to any direct criticism of the Italian Church. Overall, the attention of the Italian media in recent weeks has focused more on individual cases of abuse. The arrest of a Milanese priest for relevant offenses was reported by the "Corriere" with a front-page teaser – while the bishops' conference's discussion of the ie followed far behind. Bishop Gino Reali's appearance in the trial of a Roman priest who is on trial for sexual abuse in the Italian capital also caused a stir last week. Asked why he had not taken action against his clergyman in light of the abuse allegations, the head of the Porto-Santa Rufina diocese near Rome stated, among other things, that he had admonished the priest to limit his contacts and to stop receiving boys at his home.

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