Vatican Taps US Priest to Field Abuse Claims

News: World News
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 31, 2019   

Abp. Viganò: 'Pope Francis himself is covering up abuse right now'

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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - A U.S. priest will be filtering all allegations of abuse occurring in Vatican City until a permanent reporting system is installed.

Monsignor Robert Oliver, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, will now be fielding allegations of abuse of minors and so-called vulnerable adults within the Vatican or the suspected cover-up of such abuse. The announcement was reported Tuesday in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

The June appointment of Oliver, who worked in many U.S. dioceses before moving to Rome, will be gradually phased out by year's end, according to Cdl. Angelo Comastri, papal vicar for Vatican City State.

Comastri himself was accused in June by Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò for allegedly taking part in a cover-up involving sex abuse of young men attending the Vatican's St. Pius X Pre-Seminary in Rome.


In its Tuesday report, L'Osservatore Romano said Oliver will be the contact person for anyone who "may have information or suspicions that a minor or a vulnerable person may be at risk of abuse or may have been subjected to it as part of pastoral activities of the vicariate as well as knowledge of any act of negligence by authorities."

The newspaper further reported that Comastri had sent a letter to the head of each dicastery outlining procedures for reporting abuse and notifying them that a permanent system of public reporting of such abuse would be in place by year's end.

"The system will be gradually incorporated," it said, "with the measures adopted by other relevant bodies, in particular, those spelled out" by the guidelines for handling sex abuse within the vicariate of Vatican City.

This refers to the five-page set of guidelines Pope Francis published in March. These guidelines, said the newspaper's report, apply to all clergy, assistants, employees or volunteers working in Vatican City as well as all members of religious or lay associations residing in the Vatican.
There are some minors residing in the Vatican as members of its Sistine Chapel Choir, as patients at the pediatric hospital there or as members of its pre-seminary.
Pope Francis himself is covering up abuse right now, as he did for McCarrick. I say this with great sorrow.
This pre-seminary for boys was the subject of an ongoing scandal involving the alleged abuse of multiple boys by a senior seminarian and its subsequent cover-up dating back to 2013. In June, Viganò said abuse at the pre-seminary was covered up by "then-bishop of Como, Diego Coletti, together with Cdl. Angelo Comastri, Vicar General of Pope Francis for Vatican City."
The archbishop described how the cover-up rolled out:
You might wonder how this horrible case was closed. The Bishop of Como removed Don Stabellini from the post of Judicial Vicar; the whistleblower, the seminarian Kamil Jarzembowski, was expelled from the seminary; the two fellow seminarians who had joined him in the denunciation left the seminary; and the alleged abuser, Gabriele Martinelli, was ordained priest in July 2017.
Comastri, whom Viganò accused of covering up sex abuse at the pre-seminary, described this new reporting system in his letter to the dicastery heads.


"Within the year, the Vicariate of Vatican City will establish a public, permanent and easily accessible system for presenting reports concerning crimes and negligence dealing with the abuse of minors and vulnerable people," he said.

Both emotional and physical abuse, according to the newspaper, can be reported by any individual, even those without any connections to the Vatican or Holy See. Any crimes against minors, it said, can be prosecuted immediately by the Vatican's prosecutor. Based on Viganò's June testimony involving the Vatican's track record in mishandling clerical sex abuse, however, concerned Catholics are worried that justice may not be served on cases that do get reported.
"The signs I see are truly ominous," observed the archbishop. "Not only is Pope Francis doing close to nothing to punish those who have committed abuse, he is doing absolutely nothing to expose and bring to justice those who have, for decades, facilitated and covered up the abusers."


He added, "You ask me if I see any signs that the Vatican, under Pope Francis, is taking proper steps to address the serious issues of abuse. My answer is simple: Pope Francis himself is covering up abuse right now, as he did for McCarrick. I say this with great sorrow."

 

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