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  1. #1
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    Default Italy Grapples With Priest Sex Abuse

    VERONA, Italy - It happened night after night, the deaf man said, sometimes in the priest's bedroom, sometimes in the bathroom, even in the confessional.

    When he was a young boy at a Catholic-run institute for the deaf, Alessandro Vantini said, priests sodomized him so relentlessly he came to feel "as if I were dead." This year, he and dozens of other former students did something highly unusual for Italy: They went public with claims they were forced to perform sex acts with priests.

    For decades, a culture of silence has surrounded priest abuse in Italy, where surveys show the church is considered one of the country's most respected institutions. Now, in the Vatican's backyard, a movement to air and root out abusive priests is slowly and fitfully taking hold.

    A yearlong Associated Press tally has documented 73 cases with allegations of sexual abuse by priests against minors over the past decade in Italy, with more than 235 victims. The tally was compiled from local media reports, linked to by Web sites of victims groups and blogs. Almost all the cases have come out in the seven years since the scandal about Roman Catholic priest abuse broke in the United States.

    Mere trickle

    The numbers in Italy are still a mere trickle compared to the hundreds of cases in the court systems of the United States and Ireland. And according to the AP tally, the Italian church has so far had to pay only a few hundred thousand euros (dollars) in civil damages to the victims, compared to $2.6 billion in abuse-related costs for the American diocese or $1.5 billion due to victims in Ireland.

    However, the numbers still stand out in a country where reports of clerical sex abuse were virtually unknown a decade ago. They point to an increasing willingness among the Italian public and — slowly — within the Vatican itself to look squarely at a tragedy where the reported cases may only just be the tip of the iceberg. The Italian church will not release the numbers of cases reported or of court settlements.

    The implications of priest abuse loom large in Italy: with its 50,850 priests in a nation of 60 million, Italy counts more priests than all of South America or Africa. In the United States — where the Vatican counts 44,700 priests in a nation of 300 million — more than 4,000 Catholic clergy have been accused of molesting minors since 1950.

    The Italian cases follow much the same pattern as the U.S. and Irish scandals: Italian prelates often preyed on poor, physically or mentally disabled, or drug-addicted youths entrusted to their care. The deaf students' speech impairments, for example, made the priests' admonition "never to tell" all the more easy to enforce.

    In this predominantly Roman Catholic country, the church enjoys such an exalted status that the pope's pronouncements frequently top the evening news, without any critical commentary. Even those with anti-clerical views acknowledge the important role the church plays in education, social services and caring for the poor.

    ‘It's a taboo’

    As a result, few dare to criticize it, including the mainstream independent and state-run media. In addition, there's a certain prudishness in small-town Italy, where one just doesn't speak about sex, much less sex between a priest and a child.

    "It's a taboo on top of a taboo," said Jacqueline Monica Magi, who prosecuted several pedophilia cases in Italy before becoming a judge. "This is the provincialism of Italy."

    Breaking the conspiracy of silence, 67 former students from Verona's Antonio Provolo institute for the deaf signed a statement alleging that sexual abuse, pedophilia and corporal punishment occurred at the school from the 1950s to the 1980s at the hands of priests and brothers of the Congregation for the Company of Mary.

    While not all acknowledged being victims themselves, 14 of the 67 wrote sworn statements and videotaped testimony, detailing the abuse they say they suffered, some for years, at the school's two campuses in Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. They named 24 priests, lay religious men and religious brothers.

    Vantini said he, too, was silent for years.

    "How could I tell my papa that a priest had sex with me?" Vantini, 59, told the AP one afternoon, recounting through a sign-language interpreter the abuse he said he endured. "You couldn't tell your parents because the priests would beat you."

    Italy grapples with priest sex abuse - Europe- msnbc.com
    This is a positive development. People should understand just how many pedophiles seek church positions, and the religious environment in general to prey on children.

  2. #2
    Senior Member tinkerbell's Avatar
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    Hi

    sorry quick note as I am going out...

    Yes there is pedopelia, and various other abuse within the church (like many institutions - which hide such people), but that isn't everyone within the institution... the vast majority of preists and people in religious orders who are very spirutual people who are trying to do some good...

    So yes there are problems but that is a small % of the whole.

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    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Isn't it ironic? The very Church that has such strict rules about sexuality is the one that seems to contain the most people breaking those rules in the most negative ways.

    Never turn your back on a Priest, that's all I've got to say...

    I sometimes wonder if the entire Christian religion was written to create a set of rules that people could twist to their advantage to gain power over the believers. When I read it, that's the impression I get.

    I admit, sometimes I unfairly associate this kind of thing with all Christians, but when so many of them misuse it in this way, it's hard not to become suspicious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerbell View Post
    Hi

    sorry quick note as I am going out...

    Yes there is pedopelia, and various other abuse within the church (like many institutions - which hide such people), but that isn't everyone within the institution... the vast majority of preists and people in religious orders who are very spirutual people who are trying to do some good...

    So yes there are problems but that is a small % of the whole.
    I'm not negating the decent people by any means.

    The old FBI pedophile profile used to include "more than average religious observance and involvement" as a trait to look for. Those predators purposely seek to be in positions of authority over children. Like teachers, coaches, and church people. Who knows if the pedophiles are religious to begin with, but rather choose it as a strategy to gain access. It just seems to happen far more than just a small percentage when it concerns flds, jehovah's witnesses, and catholics.

    It should be addressed more, in hopes that it decreases the occurrence.

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    Senior Member tinkerbell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01011010 View Post
    I'm not negating the decent people by any means.

    The old FBI pedophile profile used to include "more than average religious observance and involvement" as a trait to look for. Those predators purposely seek to be in positions of authority over children. Like teachers, coaches, and church people. Who knows if the pedophiles are religious to begin with, but rather choose it as a strategy to gain access. It just seems to happen far more than just a small percentage when it concerns flds, jehovah's witnesses, and catholics.

    It should be addressed more, in hopes that it decreases the occurrence.
    Hi

    I didn't think you were at all - its just inreadibly easy to do....

    The church has a variety of things going for it that may attract this problem - power and access to vulnerable people. Any institution with those two things will attract this problem... care homes, fostering etc all atract abuse of power.

    Until recently (say the last 20-30 years), the church has had untold power without any questions or finger pointing... it was also bad at policing itself - typically a preist who had any scandal moved parrishes and wasn't prosecuted (which arguably is hiding the problem). Not the scandal could be haivng a ormal relationship with a consenting adult.

    As a result of the lack of control of power it corruped, hence all these awful things were allowed to go on... if you want a chilling view of religious abuse - check outt he DVD the "Magdalene Sisters" it's an exceptionately powerful drama in my view...

    The problem of abuse of power has been found in any institution - in the UK the 1970/80's police force was as corrupt as hell (they were beating people up, corrupting eidence, etc etc), there was major transofrmation and lots of rules and regulations including onbudsmans etc. Hence the power was curbed. Social care was just as bad...

    In the church that didn't happen - and thus is 20-30 years behind.

    My eader siblings went to a private school run by a religious order..... the Freinds reunited comments were horrific - it was a school of brutality - and my bros to an extent don't talk about it.

    That said there was a wealth of very saintly people, so as you can expect only a very small proportion fall into horrific crimes like the above.

    Ultimately this is about the abuse of Power and structuring of institutions to make them accountable for themselves.

  6. #6
    Senior Member tinkerbell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post
    I sometimes wonder if the entire Christian religion was written to create a set of rules that people could twist to their advantage to gain power over the believers. When I read it, that's the impression I get.
    I have met a fair few religious types who are just plain old bad people hiding in hipocracy, but there are good ones too. Ultimately religion is suppose to give them stronger moral values.

    Rules are their but that doens't mean people can and will follow them. Some of those rules are out of date. Personally I think that being gay and a preist is OK but it's against the rules... but then I also think they ought to be allowed to marry....

    If you cover up normal human sexuality and make it all wrong it does seem to come out badly all round...

  7. #7
    Ghost Monkey Soul Vizconde's Avatar
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    I am a Catholic and I am glad this cancer/these maggots within our Church are finally being exposed.

    Its worth the cost of the civil court settlements and I wish their were more criminal court prosecutions.

    I found particularly gruesome the stories of the former the government institutions in Ireland run by some of the monks; it was like something out of the movie Sleepers (1996), it is totally SICK! Why are they doing it? What can be done to stop it from happening again?

  8. #8
    Freshman Member simulatedworld's Avatar
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    ^ I wish this were as unusual an occurrence as you seem to [want to] believe it is.

    You speak of "these maggots" as if they're somehow unusual or not commonplace.

    What do you think happens when you build a system where male religious leaders are denied a basic biological necessity and guilt tripped to death if they're ever caught violating it, AND trusted with children in private for extended periods of time/held up as moral bastions?

    I suspect that many of these violators are not even pedophiles in the first place, but rather find themselves with no outlet for their sexual desires except children because of the Catholic church's ludicrous rules involving priests and celibacy. For most, it's probably something they fall into out of guilt and desperation over time, not a calculated step-by-step plan to seek out children to molest. Human psychology isn't that simple.

    I mean really, put it together. Any system expecting long term total celibacy from its adherents is doomed to fail miserably, as we've seen enough times by now. The utter miserable failure that is "abstinence only" sex education is proof enough of the fact that humans cannot and do not ignore their natural sexual urges for extended periods of time. If the Catholic church would just drop the archaic bullshit about priests not being able to marry or have families, a lot fewer of them would feel the need to take out their sexual frustrations/massive guilt complexes for even HAVING sexual feelings in the first place on young children.

    Isn't it obvious by now?
    If you could be anything you want, I bet you'd be disappointed--am I right?

  9. #9
    The Architect Alwar's Avatar
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    There was a recent explosion about this in Ireland when a commission found systemic institutional abuse, primarily of boys over some 60 years that was studied for the last 9. Before it broke I had long heard stories about it from an Irish friend who said it was common.

    Here's an article about it: BBC NEWS | Europe | Irish church knew abuse 'endemic'

  10. #10
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post
    I suspect that many of these violators are not even pedophiles in the first place, but rather find themselves with no outlet for their sexual desires except children because of the Catholic church's ludicrous rules involving priests and celibacy. For most, it's probably something they fall into out of guilt and desperation over time, not a calculated step-by-step plan to seek out children to molest. Human psychology isn't that simple.

    I mean really, put it together. Any system expecting long term total celibacy from its adherents is doomed to fail miserably, as we've seen enough times by now. The utter miserable failure that is "abstinence only" sex education is proof enough of the fact that humans cannot and do not ignore their natural sexual urges for extended periods of time. If the Catholic church would just drop the archaic bullshit about priests not being able to marry or have families, a lot fewer of them would feel the need to take out their sexual frustrations/massive guilt complexes for even HAVING sexual feelings in the first place on young children.

    Isn't it obvious by now?
    This is a huge generalization. As you say, human psychology isn't that simple. Perverted people seek positions of authority--it doesn't mean that this isn't one hypothetical example, and I think that your analysis is accurate for some individuals, but (a) they don't just let anyone enter the priesthood and (b) you can get married if it's important to you, and then become a priest. No one is demanding that these individuals choose this lifestyle, people choose it voluntarily because it's important to them.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
    C.S. Lewis

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