Pope ignored abuse of deaf children, says Father Nicola Corradi
The sexual abuse of vulnerable children was brought to the attention of the Vatican but elicited no response from the Pope, it was claimed yesterday
Father Nicola Corradi, 83, an Italian priest, is accused of being the ringleader of a group of clerics who preyed on deaf children at Catholic schools in Italy and Argentina. He is due to go on trial in Argentina next month.
The Washington Post said church officials up to and including the Pope were warned repeatedly and directly about a group of alleged predators that included Father Corradi, but took no action against him. It published a harrowing account two days before a church conference on sexual abuse of children.
“I want Pope Francis to come here, I want himto explain how this happened, how they knew this and did nothing,” a former student of the Provolo Institute told the paper, using sign language. The woman, 24, and her brother, 22, are among at least 14 former students who say they were victims of abuse at the Argentine boarding school, which has now closed.
“Vulnerable to the extreme, the deaf students tended to come from poor families that fervently believed in the sanctity of the church,” the newspaper said. “Prosecutors say the children were fondled, raped, sometimes tied up and, in one instance, forced to wear a diaper to hide the bleeding. All the while, their limited ability to communicate complicated their ability to tell others what was happening to them.”
Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of bishopaccountability.org, a site that tracks abuse in the church, described the Provolo case as “truly emblematic”. She said: “The church failedthem abysmally. The Pope ignored them, the police responded. It’s a clear example of the tragedy that keeps playing out.”
At a press conference in Rome yesterday Ms Barrett Doyle said she was not confident that the three-day Vatican conference, involving 190 church leaders from around the globe, would come up with an effective plan to deal with a problem that has severely damaged the standing of the church
“Canon law must change so that it stops prioritising the priesthood over the lives of children. I believe the church is nowhere close to making the reforms needed to stop this epidemic,” she said.
The Pope urged participants of the conference to meet abuse victims before they came to Rome, to familiarise themselves with victims’ trauma and debunk the widely held idea that clerical sexual abuse only happened in some parts of the world. Survivors will be represented at the summit itself but only in a few key moments of prayer.
Father Federico Lombardi, the summit moderator, said he would gladly receive any written messages from survivors, expressing an openness to hear from a broad cross-section of victims.