The Italian Church publishes a first report on sexual violence committed within it

The Italian cardinal and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Matteo Maria Zuppi, on May 27, 2022, in Rome.

The Italian Church speaks of a promising first step. Advocates for victims of sexual assault see it as a belated and insufficient gesture. Thursday, November 17, the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) published the results of a first study on sexual violence committed within it. Put forward as a pledge of goodwill by the ecclesiastical authorities in a country where the subject is confined to the margins of public debate, the report entitled “Protect, prevent, train” mentions 89 cases identified in Italian parishes since 2019.

Its content is however considered to be incomplete and its methodology questionable by Rete l’Abuso (Abuse Network), the main association for the defense of victims of pedocriminal acts committed by representatives of the clergy. Its president, himself a former victim, Francesco Zanardi, 51, called it a“unsatisfactory and shameful”. Ludovica Eugenio, of the Coordination against Abuses in the Catholic Church ItalyChurchToo, for her part deplored a “refusal to tackle the issue head-on from a systemic point of view”.

Blurry “photograph”

Published on the eve of the National Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse, the report, which lists the activities of structures set up in Italian dioceses to deal with the issue of sexual violence, follows announcements made after his election in May as President of the CEI, by the Archbishop of Bologna, Matteo Maria Zuppi. If the latter, close to Pope Francis, had then vowed to “not to remain silent in the face of so much suffering”, he has always rejected the idea of ​​an independent commission on the model of the French Ciase, who made its report in October 2021 and whose statistical methods he criticized.

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Mgr Zuppi had then mentioned two areas of research to be carried out on the basis of data collected only within the Church and over a limited period. Only the cases reported between 2001 and 2020 to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, a department of the Vatican, were to be taken into account, alongside those identified within the structures for listening to victims set up by the Church itself. -even in Italy since 2019.

The report presented on Thursday by Lorenzo Ghizzoni, Archbishop of Ravenna and President of the CEI National Service for the Guardianship of Minors, focuses solely on the latter, delivering, in its terms “a first photograph”, which however seems both blurry and poorly framed. Entrusted to researchers from the Piacenza section of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, the work was carried out on the basis of data provided by only 158 of the 226 Italian dioceses. The 89 cases of abuse recorded since 2019 cited in the report only come from 30 of the 90 listening centers, moreover set up by the ecclesiastical authorities in a very heterogeneous way on the territory during the period concerned.

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