Francis calls to “assume responsibilities” after the 330,000 cases of alleged pedophilia registered in the country and demands that the Church “be a safe house for all”
Ireland, the United States, Germany, Australia, Chile and now, France. The list of countries whose churches have been shaken by the pedophilia scandal is getting longer, which has caused a feeling in the Pope: “shame.” In the general audience that he presided over this Wednesday in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican, Francis repeated this term three times with a firm voice and a harsh gesture when referring to the report presented the day before in France. This devastating investigation reveals 330,000 victims of abuses committed in Gallic ecclesial circles since 1950 and, at least, between 2,900 and 3,200 priests and pedophile religious. “This is the moment of shame,” cried the Pope.
After conveying to the victims his “sadness and my pain for the traumas they have suffered”, Jorge Mario Bergoglio encouraged the bishops and superiors of religious congregations to make “all possible efforts” so that “similar dramas are not repeated.” . He also took the opportunity to show French priests his “closeness and paternal support” in the face of the crisis they are facing, which he considered a “tough but healthy” test, and invited all Gaulish Catholics to “assume their responsibilities to ensure that the Church be a safe home for all. These words came after the day before he asked the French Church to embark on a “path of redemption” after the abuse crisis and thanked the victims for their “courage” in denouncing.
On the same morning that the Pope held the general audience, the hearings of two trials in the Vatican Court took place consecutively, one of them motivated precisely by the alleged sexual abuse that would have occurred in the pre-seminar that existed within the tiny State, although now it will be transferred. Alleging the prescription of the crimes and the lack of evidence, the Court decided to acquit the two defendants: the priest Gabriele Martinelli, who was accused of abuse, and the rector of the pre-seminary, who was accused of concealment.
In the second process, the Vatican tries to shed some light on the alleged financial irregularities committed by the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. Due to the serious mistakes made by the Prosecutor’s Office, the Court decided this Wednesday to postpone the next hearing until November 17, so that the summary can be completed, as demanded by the lawyers of the 10 accused. Among them, Cardinal Angelo Becciu stands out, one of the most influential men in the Roman Curia in the first years of Francis’ pontificate for his position as a substitute for the Secretary of State. The lawyers representing the defense even requested the annulment of the trial, something to which the court, presided over by Giuseppe Pignatone, refused.
The Prosecutor’s Office now has until November 3 to complete the summary, for which it must interrogate the defendants who until now had not taken a statement and, in addition, allow the defense to access the key evidence of the process: the several hours of video recordings of the statement made by Alberto Perlasca, former head of the Administrative Office of the First Section of the Secretary of State. Perlasca was aware of the controversial purchase of a building in a luxurious London neighborhood with funds from the Secretary of State, an operation that is at the heart of the process.