Sunday, March 28, 2010

Church, Deaf Students Square Off On Italian TV

Carlo De Gresti, spokesman of the Antonio Provolo Institute in Verona, Italy

By the Associated Press

Three deaf men who say they were repeatedly sodomized and abused by priests as children confronted the church diocese Friday about why it hadn't punished their abusers, saying they want justice.

The three men, first interviewed last year by The Associated Press, appeared on a prime-time talk show on Italy's state-run RAI television, squaring off with the spokesman of the Verona diocese amid a swirling global sex abuse scandal that has inched closer to Pope Benedict XVI.

The former students haven't gone to the police because the 10-year statute of limitations expired. They have asked the priests in question to waive the statute of limitations so a case can be opened, but to date none of them have.

Their stories have found new relevance after revelations that the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — then led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now pope — told Wisconsin bishops in 1998 to shut down a church trial for an elderly priest who allegedly molested 200 deaf boys.

The Wisconsin and Italy cases are eerily similar in that they both involve the purported abuse of deaf children, particularly vulnerable victims to abuse since the admonition "never tell" is easily enforced as many have speech impairments.

The spokesman of the Verona diocese, the Rev. Bruno Fasani, said he hoped Friday's confrontation would be constructive and he welcomed meeting the men for the first time. But the former students of Verona's Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf refused to shake his hand during the show.

One of the three, Dario Laiti, 59, said he couldn't bring himself to greet the prelate.

"It's a problem of justice," said Laiti, who has said he was sodomized repeatedly at the boarding school from the age of seven. Earlier in the day, in an interview with Associated Press Television News, Laiti said he wanted his abusers kicked out of the church.

"We want justice for everything we went through, the suffering for all of our life," said Gianni Bisoli, 61, another former student who says he was sodomized by and forced to perform oral sex on a dozen priests at the institute.

Bisoli, Laiti and 65 other former pupils signed a statement last year saying sexual abuse, pedophilia and corporal punishment occurred at the school from the 1950s to the 1980s.

AP story continued here:

Related Story: Italy Grapples with Priest Sex Abuse


No comments: