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Rome & the World: Italy’s abuse reports

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Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media for Aleteia - published on 11/18/22

Also in today's headlines: No papal speech to Germany's bishops and Pelosi's retirement

Every day, Aleteia offers a selection of articles written by the international press about the Church and the major issues that concern Catholics around the world. The opinions and views expressed in these articles are not those of the editors.

Friday 18 November 2022
1. Italy: 600 sexual abuse cases sent to the Vatican
2. Is more English in the Vatican good news?
3. No big speech from the Pope to the German bishops
4. Latin Archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine, thanks the Pope for his closeness
5. USA: Nancy Pelosi’s record with the Catholic Church
~

On Thursday, the Italian Catholic Bishops published their first report on sexual abuse by the clergy and reported in a press conference that more than 600 files concerning cases that occurred in Italy have been sent to the Vatican since 2000. The report by the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), which covers only complaints that local Italian church authorities have received over the past two years, officially identified 89 alleged victims and some 68 people accused, among them 34% were lay church collaborators and 66% were clerics. However, in response to a reporter’s question at a press conference about the report, Archbishop Giuseppe Baturi, the CEI’s secretary general, revealed that 613 cases have been sent to the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2001, when the Vatican asked dioceses around the world to send all credible reports of abuse to the body so they could be processed centrally. The Associated Press notes that “the almost haphazard revelation underscored that the initial report by the bishops’ conference was not intended to provide an accurate or historic look at the clergy abuse problem in Italy.” While other countries, including France, Spain and Portugal, have sought to provide a “full accounting” of this issue, the Italian episcopate’s report is limited to evaluating the work of the “listening centers” that were set up in some dioceses since 2019 to receive complaints from victims. The numbers therefore paled in comparison to the tally of known cases kept by Italy’s main victims’ group, “Rete L’Abuso,” which estimates that there are about 1 million Italians who are victims in the predominantly Catholic country. The group has identified some 178 accused priests. When Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, announced the draft report in May, shortly after his election, he had insisted that the scope of the study and the six-month deadline for the publication would allow researchers to provide a more “accurate and accountable” tally. However, this limited approach worries the victims’ associations, who accuse the Italian episcopate of wanting to “minimize” the problem.

Associated Press, English

2Is more English in the Vatican good news?

Crux’s John Allen responds to the proposal of Irish Jesuit Oliver Rafferty to increase the use of English in the Vatican and decrease the weight of Italian. For him, this evolution would allow the Church to be more missionary and to see its centralized bureaucracy become more fluid. A thesis that is understandable but not without its flaws, argues John Allen. First, he reminds us that the central government of the Church “took root and developed over the centuries in Italy,” and that in the few cases where the papacy was moved outside the Peninsula, the experience was not positive. Then, on the use of English, the media reminds us that this language is spoken by only 30% of the 1.3 billion Catholic faithful, and that English speakers “tend to be a bit self-referential.” Another important argument is that while there may be blocs in the Catholic Church – Americans and Germans, for example – with significant funds, having them compete on an Italian terrain may ensure a more level playing field and promote an internal balance. Allen argues that the Holy See must also be able to remain an independent actor, outside the rivalries of superpowers, and thus this unique culture strengthens the independence of Vatican diplomacy. Making English the official language of the Vatican is therefore not necessarily the best idea, he concludes. 

Crux, English 

3. No big speech from the Pope to the German bishops

In the audience granted Thursday morning to the German bishops on an ad limina visit to Rome, Pope Francis opted for a conversation with questions and answers rather than a big speech, reports Die Tagespost. The two-hour meeting was conducted “as an open discussion where the bishops could raise their questions and issues and the Pope answered them individually.” A press conference is scheduled for Saturday morning.

Die Tagespost, German 

4. Latin Archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine, thanks the Pope for his closeness

Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, the Latin archbishop of Lviv, met with Pope Francis on Thursday morning, in the presence of the Auxiliary Bishop of Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhia, a diocese particularly affected by the war. They thanked the Pope for his “spiritual and material” closeness to the Ukrainian population. Ukraine has about 1 million Latin Catholics and five million Greek Catholics.

Vatican News, Italian

5. USA: Nancy Pelosi’s record with the Catholic Church

The Speaker of the House of Representatives has announced that she will not run for the Democratic leadership in the next Congress. In the course of her career, she has often described herself as a Catholic but has clashed with American bishops over her support for abortion rights and gay marriage. 

America Magazine, English

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