List of Sexual Predators Protected by Pope Francis Grows and Grows
by Betty Clermont –
The Catholic Church has long been known for gut-wrenching sex abuse scandals. But this personal involvement by a pope is unprecedented.
Fr. Mauro Inzoli is now facing a second Vatican trial after new evidence emerged against him as reported on Feb. 25.
The Vatican found the Italian priest guilty in 2012 of sexually abusing young boys and he was defrocked. But Inzoli is friends with Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio who “intervened on behalf of Inzoli and Pope Francis returned him to the priestly state in 2014, inviting him to ‘a life of humility and prayer.’” Inzoli was later seen at a conference on the family.
In June 2016, a civil court convicted Inzoli of eight incidents of sexual violence between 2004 and 2008 against five children aged 12-16. Fifteen more crimes were barred by the statute of limitations. (Two out of three sexual assaults in the U.S. go unreported. An Australian report found a 33 year gap on average between the sexual abuse and the date reported.)
Inzoli was sentenced to four years and nine months. The Vatican had withheld information from their canonical trial from the civil prosecutors. “Of course, the pope could have allowed the Vatican to share this information with civil authorities if he so desired,” noted Michael Brendan Dougherty, senior correspondent at TheWeek.com.
The Inzoli case is one of several in which Francis overruled the advice of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and reduced a sentence that called for the priest to be laicized (defrocked). Instead, the priests were sentenced to penalties including a lifetime of penance and prayer and removal from public ministry. At the same time, Francis also ordered three longtime staffers at the CDF dismissed, two of whom worked for the discipline section that handles sex abuse cases.
Pope Francis and his cardinal allies have been known to interfere with CDF’s judgments on abuse cases. This intervention has become so endemic to the system that cases of priestly abuse in Rome are now known to have two sets of distinctions. The first is guilty or innocent. The second is “with cardinal friends” or “without cardinal friends.”
Luis Fernando Figari sodomized members of the Peruvian-based Sodalitium Christianae Vitae. He liked to watch them ‘experience pain, discomfort and fear,’ and humiliated them in front of others to enhance his control over them,” according to an investigative report commissioned by the Sodalitium leadership released on Feb. 10. (His crimes cannot be prosecuted in Peru because of the statute of limitations.)
Figari founded the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV) in 1971 as a lay community in Peru opposed to liberation theology. The community grew into Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, the United States, and Italy. They were granted pontifical recognition in 1997.
Figari stepped down as SCV superior general in 2010 following allegations of abuse “including through a Spanish-language blog dedicated to pedophilia within the Church.”
The Sodalitium asked the Vatican to investigate in 2011. But they did nothing until Ugaz and Pedro Salinas’ 2015 book, Half Monks, Half Soldiers, also directly implicated Figari for sexually abusing SCV members. A Vatican commission was formed in November 2015 at the request of the SCV.
In April 2016, Alessandro Moroni, the current superior general of the SCV, acknowledged that Figari had committed abuses – “the tip of the iceberg.” The next month, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark was appointed as the Vatican’s delegate to oversee only the ongoing reform of the society.
When Figari resigned, he went to live in a SCV house in Rome and immigration records show that he visited Peru regularly through late 2015.
In December 2016, during a private audience with Pope Francis, SCV leaders asked the pope to decree Figari’s “immediate separation from our community” and order him to leave the community’s house.
The Vatican investigators issued a decree on Jan. 30 directing Moroni to order Figari not to have any contact with SCV members, not to return to Peru, and that he be placed in a residence where there are no Sodalits. The commission declined the SCV’s request to expel him outright because his crimes took place “in the very distant past,” as founder he was “the mediator of a charisma of divine origin” and cited his age and poor health.
Figari’s victims denounced the Vatican investigation. “The statement claims that there is ‘not enough moral certainty’ to indicate that Figari committed child abuse. Therefore, no punishment is pronounced against him.” In contrast, the Feb. 10 report commissioned by the SCV states that “the founder sexually abused a minor, six young adults and also sexually manipulated seven other men.”
“It’s really shameful,” said Pedro Salinas, co-author of Half Monks, Half Soldiers who was himself a victim of Figari’s psychological abuse. The sanctions, Salinas said, amount to a “golden exile, where he can live comfortably with all his needs taken care of.”
The victims doubted the independence of the papal investigation – and SCV leaders charged that their request for expulsion was denied – because Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, Figari’s “old friend,” interceded on his behalf with Pope Francis. Errázuriz had invited the Figari to found a chapter in Chile and met with Figari in Rome.
Errázuriz is a supporter of Chile’s brutal military dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The cardinal was also the “most powerful defender” of Fr. Fernanco Karadima, a serial sexual predator of boys in Chile. Errázuriz and the pope had “forged ties” while both were members of the Latin American Episcopal Council in the decade before Jorge Mario Bergoglio became pope. Immediately after his election, Pope Francis chose Errázuriz to be a member of his insider council of cardinals.
Fr. Don Corradi, along with another priest and three other men, was arrested by Argentine police in December. He is accused of the sexual and physical abuse of at least 22 children at a school for youths with hearing disabilities in northwestern Mendoza province.
Corradi earlier had been accused in Italy of sexually abusing students at the Provolo Institute in Verona, a notorious school for the deaf where hundreds of children are believed to have been sexually assaulted over the years by two dozen priests and religious brothers ….
The association of Provolo victims in Italy wrote to Pope Francis on Dec. 31, 2013, asking for assistance for the victims there, saying they still received no form of solidarity or support, even after the Vatican concluded they had been abused in 2012.
In a statement to The Associated Press after Corradi’s arrest, the association said they had flagged Corradi by name to the Verona archdiocese during hearings held between December 2010 and February 2011. Corradi’s name was also on a list of accused priests that the association published when the allegations were first aired. His location in Argentina was also listed.
Members of the Provolo association met with the pope last year and asked for an independent commission to investigate. The Provolo group provided the AP with the letter from the Vatican dated Feb. 5, 2016, in which the Vatican said it had forwarded the request to the Italian bishops’ conference, saying it was up to them to investigate.
“Pope Francis, we are here once again. Enough is enough!” The Provolo victims expressed their outrage in a six-minute video at seeing the same priests who abused them in the past commit the same crimes after being transferred to Argentina. Four other priests were named as examples of the “dozens” of Italian clerics who have eluded justice because Pope Francis does not require bishops to report these crimes to civil authorities, according to this Feb. 2 article on a website for victims of Italian predator priests.
Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Guam was replaced as head of the Agana archdiocese by Pope Francis in June 2016 while the Vatican began an investigation. Apuron was accused of molestation or rape in the 1970’s by four former altar boys.
Apuron’s title, honors and benefits were not removed. He was tracked down and found living in California as reported on Feb. 6. There will be “extreme secrecy” in his upcoming the canonical Vatican trial.
Four civil lawsuits alleging child sex abuse were filed against Apuron and the Archdiocese of Agana by three former altar boys and the estate of a deceased former altar boy. “The lawsuits are possible because of a recently passed Guam law that lifts the civil statute of limitations for those accused of abusing children, as well as the institutions that supported them,” reported the Pacific Daily News.
There is another current civil lawsuit against retired Bishop Tomas A. Camacho by a former altar boy alleging that the former Guam priest raped him in the 1970’s. Another 23 lawsuits for civil claims of sexual abuse by clergy have been filed against the Archdiocese of Agana.
Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, the Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic, was accused of soliciting poor street boys for sex. Pope Francis was informed in July 2013. He dismissed Wesolowski in secret leaving him a free man.
The archbishop was finally arrested by the Vatican in September 2014 only after “there was a serious risk that the nuncio would be arrested on Italian territory at the request of the Dominican authorities and then extradited,” reported the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera. The archbishop was found with more than 100,000 computer files of child pornography, a “key ingredient” in sex trafficking.
Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Miranda Melgarejo of Ayacucho, Peru, was secretly dismissed by Pope Francis in May 2013 for sexually abusing minors. Neither the public nor the civil authorities were notified and Miranda remains a free man.
There are currently 17 active bishops accused of complicity with sexually abusive priests who have nothing to fear in losing their positions. Probably because, as cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio commissioned “a report to judges that sought exoneration of a criminally convicted priest by impugning the credibility of the priest’s victims.” Both of these reports are from BishopAccountablity.org who could use more donations to continue keeping the record straight.
Sex Abuse Commission
Pope Francis refused to cooperate with the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) After being criticized by the press on Dec. 4, 2013, Pope Francis announced he was forming a sex abuse commission the next day.
The commission is underfunded and meets infrequently, member Kathleen McCormack told the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Feb. 23. UK member Sheila Hollins agreed the commission was struggling to operate.
In announcing her resignation from the commission on March 1, sexual abuse victim/member Marie Collins said “the most significant problem has been reluctance of some members of the Vatican Curia to implement the recommendations of the Commission despite their approval by the pope.” Collins added that in the first year, the commission had no office or staff. She has never met with the pope.
The three women do not acknowledge that Pope Francis can order the Curia to cooperate if he chose to do so. The commission member, Peter Saunders of Britain, who stated, “Of course Pope Francis has established he is part of the problem,” and “The pope could do so much more and he is doing next to nothing,” was asked to step down a year ago. Saunders also said the commission was “smoke and mirrors” and “a public relations exercise. The protection of our children is much more important than that.”
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos