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We regularly see members of the Catholic Church hierarchy feigning contrition over the worldwide sex abuse scandal that was added and abetted by the Church hierarchy for many decades if not centuries. Despite the rivers of crocodile tears, sex abuse suits continue to be filed, the Church continues to oppose compensating victims tooth and claw, and judgments are entered every passing month against dioceses that closed their eyes to abuse and mere shuffled predator priest off to new, unsuspecting parishes. Meanwhile, of course, Pope Francis and the rest of the upper Church hierarchy continues a jihad against normal, non-predator gays and same sex marriage. Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi, who has written past exposes of the Church, in a new book accuses Pope Francis of doing “close to nothing” to stop clerical sexual abuse in Italy and around the world despite his protestations that he has zero tolerance for sexual abuse of children and youths. The Guardian looks at Fittipaldi's charges against Pope Francis. Here are excerpts:
The last time Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi wrote an exposé about corruption at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church, it landed him in a Vatican court facing a possible jail sentence on charges that he had illegally obtained confidential church papers in the course of his reporting.
Now, six months after the 42-year-old reporter was cleared of all charges, Fittipaldi is taking on the church again. This time in a new book that accuses Pope Francis of doing “close to nothing” to stop clerical sexual abuse in Italy and around the world, despite the Argentinean pope’s frequent assertions that he has zero tolerance for the abuse of children or those who protect abusers.
In Lussuria (Lust), which will be released in Italian by publisher Feltrinelli on Thursday, Fittipaldi methodically pores over court documents and cites interviews with priests and judicial officials to paint a damning picture of the first three years of Francis’s papacy. Fittipaldi claims that 1,200 plausible complaints of molestation against boys and girls from around the world have been brought to the Vatican’s attention in that period. In some of the twenty cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests in Italy in 2016, Fittipaldi writes, priests have been convicted of abuse without the church taking any canonical action against them.
Fittipaldi also devotes attention to the case of Australian cardinal George Pell, who was appointed by Francis to reform church finances and has remained in that senior position despite questions over whether Pell protected serial abusers in his archdiocese in Australia decades ago.
Francis, who did not accept Pell’s resignation in June when the Australian cardinal reached retirement age, has declined to pass judgement on him. When he was asked by reporters about a separate abuse investigation into Pell by Victoria state police the pope said “justice has to take its course”. Last November, Francis did however decide not to renew Pell’s membership in a Vatican office that handles the church’s liturgical practice. He was one of several traditionalists whose membership was not renewed.
“The principle message of the book – the problem – is that the phenomenon of paedophilia is not being fought with sufficient force. Across the world, the church continues to protect the privacy of the paedophiles and also the cardinals [who protect them],” Fittipaldi said in an interview with the Guardian.
“Francis is not directly defending the paedophiles, but he did close to nothing to contrast the phenomenon of paedophilia,” he added.
The Vatican did not respond to a request for comment on the book or the assertion that Francis has not done enough to tackle abuse.
Fittipaldi alleges that under Francis’s watch, priests who practice omertà – a term that refers to a code of silence, usually by the mafia – have been favoured by the church.
Among other incidents, Lussuria delves into the case of Mauro Inzoli, a priest who was nicknamed “Don Mercedes” for his rich taste. Inzoli was found guilty of molesting children in 2012 by the church body that examines such cases and was defrocked by Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict. But in 2014, under Francis, Inzoli’s punishment was softened and he was able to return to the clergy under limited conditions, and to enjoy a life of “humility and prayer”. In the meantime, civil authorities in Italy prosecuted him and last year he was convicted of abuse. At the time of his conviction, a judge criticised the Holy See for not turning over evidence in the case.
Fittipaldi was working on Lussuria during his trial for illegally obtaining secret documents. Speaking to the Guardian, he recalled:“It was ironic to be there, during the trial. I was thinking that many priests and bishops and cardinal were involved in sexual abuse and the Vatican does nothing. They preferred going after journalists.”In short, since the Boston Globe first exposed the rampant sexual abuse by priests in 2002, the reality is that very little has changed. Would that the media and politicians would wake up to this fact.