“It is our duty in the face of so much suffering,” said Matteo Zuppi, a 66-year-old cardinal presented as a progressive and appointed Tuesday by Pope Francis as head of the peninsula’s bishops, during a press conference.
In a final press release published at the end of its general assembly in Rome, the CEI promises that this “study will be carried out with the collaboration of independent research institutes”, in order to “achieve a more in-depth and objective knowledge” of the alleged attacks or confirmed committed by clerics in Italy between 2000 and 2021.
It will use data provided by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican institution responsible in particular for questions of sexual assault within the Catholic Church. “This will make it possible to improve prevention and control measures, as well as to support victims and survivors with better knowledge,” assures the CEI.
In addition, it undertakes to multiply the listening centers in the dioceses – currently deployed in approximately 70% of the country – and to carry out an initial national report on the cases reported during the last two years.
These announcements disappointed the victims’ associations. Francesco Zanardi, attacked by a priest when he was a teenager and founder of the main association of victims, “Réseau L’Abus” (“Rete L’Abuso”, in Italian), judged in front of the press “discriminatory” of n’ study the cases only from 2000, “which excludes many cases, including mine”.
– “Late” –
The associations, which launched a major awareness campaign on this subject in February, are calling for a large independent investigation, “carried out by impartial and high-level professionals”, in a country with a Catholic majority where the Church retains great influence.
On May 23, associations, lawyers and journalists gathered in the movement “ItalyChurchToo” (“The Church of Italy too”) had published an open letter to this effect, highlighting the delay taken by the country compared to certain of its neighbours, such as France where a commission of inquiry estimated at 216,000 the number of children and adolescents who have been victims of clerics and religious since 1950.
“Italy is the most backward country. What we are asking of the new president is the courage to implement radical measures, not facades,” Italian journalist Ludovica Eugenio told AFP on Friday. and member of the ItalyChurchToo network.
According to her, a 20-year report “will not solve the problems because it does not get to the bottom of things. It is a bit like building a house from the third floor, without foundations. Without prevention, without justice and without truth, it will come to nothing.”
In an interview with AFP on Friday, Francesco Zanardi also deplored the Italian “problem of the state” and “the flaws” in the legislative system, which “cannot intervene”, believing that “everyone must do their part “.
During the assembly, the American cardinal Sean O’Malley, president of the pontifical commission for the protection of minors, invited the bishops to “commit” to fight against this scourge. “The reality is that we will be judged on our response to the abuse crisis in the Church,” he said.
At the end of April, the sovereign pontiff had asked this commission for an annual report on the fight against sexual assault and rape committed by religious, calling for a “new start” because “there is still “a lot to do”.