Press conference held by the Italian bishops’ conference on Nov. 17, 2022 to present a national report on the protection of minors within Italy’s 226 Catholic dioceses. / YouTube Screenshot
Rome Newsroom, Nov 17, 2022 / 05:40 am (CNA).
Catholic bishops in Italy released a national report on Thursday evaluating the recent implementation of diocesan services to aid victims of abuse across the country.
The report published on Nov. 17 provided data from 90 listening centers and on the establishment of other resources for the protection of minors within Italy’s 226 Catholic dioceses. Its scope was limited to the two-year period from 2020 to 2021, years when lockdowns in Italy restricted movement and in-person gatherings.
At a press conference in Rome on the day of the report’s release, Archbishop Giuseppe Baturi of Cagliari said that 613 files with reports of abuse by members of the clergy in Italy had been sent by Catholic dioceses to the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith in the last 20 years.
“To understand exactly how many cases there are, we need an investigation,” he said.
Baturi, who serves as the secretary general of the Italian bishops’ conference, added that similar reports to the one presented today will be published in the future on an annual basis.
The Italian bishops have said that the release of the report represents “the immediate and concrete implementation” of Pope Francis’ call in April for the Protection of Minors to produce an annual report on what the Catholic Church is doing around the world to prevent the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.
The report found that 70% of dioceses in Italy had set up counseling centers and that nearly 20,000 people participated in diocesan training sessions on child protection in 2020 and 2021.
The data from the diocesan listening centers included 13 reports of sexual harassment, 21 reports of “touching,” 4 reports of pornography, and 9 reports of “sexual relations” across Italy over the two-year period with a total of 89 people who reported the violations.
According to the report, 68 alleged offenders were defined as 30 clerics, 23 laypeople, and 15 religious and the alleged incidents took place mainly at the parish (33%), at the headquarters of a movement or association (21%), or in a seminary (11.9%).
The first national report on the protection of minors in the Catholic Church in Italy was prepared by the Piacenza branch of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart.
It was released one day ahead of Italy’s National Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse. The Italian bishops established the day of prayer to align with the European Day for the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse established by the Council of ‘Europe on November 18, 2020.
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the president of the Italian bishops’ conference, has said that the bishops also plan to issue a separate national report on clerical sex abuse in the country that would cover abuse in the Catholic Church in Italy from the year 2000 to 2021. According to Reuters, Zuppi said that this future report will be carried out “in collaboration with independent research institutes.”
Zuppi said in May that the consequences for bishops found to have covered up abuse would be “very serious.”
Updated with further details from the press conference on Nov. 17.