Three Former Alter Boys Claim Abuse in Vatican

The fresh allegations come months after Catholic leaders gathered for an unprecedented summit at the Vatican to tackle widespread pedophilia within the church.

Vatican City
Vatican City

Two priests allegedly abused boys in Vatican’s youth seminary in 1980s and 1990s

Three more former altar boys have claimed they were sexually abused by two priests in the Vatican, as the child abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic church zeroed in for a second time on its headquarters.

The allegations of abuse in the Vatican’s youth seminary, to be set out in an Italian TV show on Sunday, date back to the 1980s and 1990s when the boys were aged between 10 and 14.

Inside of the Vatican

The accusations come two months after the Vatican said it would seek to indict Fr Gabriele Martinelli (28) for allegedly abusing several altar boys in 2012 when he trained at the St Pius X youth seminary. That move was prompted by the Italian show Le Iene’s first investigation into the school in 2017.

The Vatican said in September that an indictment was also being sought against a former director at the youth seminary, Fr Enrico Radice, who was accused of aiding and abetting the alleged crimes.

The Catholic church has faced thousands of child sexual abuse allegations from around the world but Le Iene’s investigation in 2017 was the first time claims of pedophilia within the Vatican’s walls were exposed.

“We decided to keep digging as we had the feeling that the previous cases were not isolated,” said Gaetano Pecoraro, one of the two authors of the investigation. “There were more victims and more priests involved in sexual abuse within the Vatican.”

In the latest investigation, three former altar boys who served at papal masses claimed they were sexual abused by two priests, one a teacher.

One of the victims alleges that one of the priests, who was managing the school’s communal showers, tried to remove his bathrobe. “He wanted to undress me,” the victim alleges. “I tried to wriggle away. I was 13 years old. I fell to the ground and asked him ‘what are you doing?’ I then got up and ran away.”

Papal Mass 1
A papal mass

All three boarded at the youth seminary. The second victim alleges he was abused at the Casa Santa Marta, where many priests stay, by a priest at the youth seminary when he was 10 or 11 years old. “He asked me to go upstairs to his room, made me sit on his legs, began to stroke my thigh and then put a hand on my private parts,” he told Le Iene. The priest allegedly persisted with the abuse and after the boy refused the advances he stopped.

The victims, now aged between 37 and 40, came together a few years ago to share their stories. The third victim made similar allegations but chose not to go into detail for the programme. The three claimed that a fourth former altar boy suffered worse sexual abuse than they did, but when he was contacted by Le Iene he refused to talk.

The allegations were corroborated by several people who claimed to have witnessed some of the abuse.

Le Iene managed to trace one of the accused priests. The man, whose face is blurred in the programme, appears to be frightened by the journalists’ visit. After he hears the accusations made against him in the audio interviews, he responds: “No, it’s not possible. I can’t remember ? I’m not saying they’re lying, I’m saying they have misunderstood.”

Priest_collar_Credit__Gregory_Dean_via_wwwshutterstockcom_CNA

The Vatican said in a statement that if new elements emerged during the judicial proceedings it had begun in the Martinelli case “involving further offences by the accused or by others, the judicial authorities of the state of the Vatican City will proceed with the opening of a new file of documents and, following preliminary investigation, with a new request for a trial.”

The fresh allegations come months after Catholic leaders gathered for an unprecedented summit at the Vatican to tackle widespread paedophilia within the church. At the close of the summit in February, Pope Francis promised the church would “spare no effort” in bringing abusers to justice and would not cover up or underestimate abuse.

(Originally written in The Irish Times)

Thousands of Bones Found in Vatican Crypt in Search For Missing Teenager

Rome (CNN)` Thousands of bones have been unearthed in two ossuaries discovered in the Vatican City, as part of an ongoing search for clues into the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl more than three decades ago.

 

Emanuela Orlandi, who was the daughter of a prominent Vatican employee and lived within the walls of the holy city, disappeared in the summer of 1983 while on her way home from a music lesson in central Rome.
Emanuela
The mystery surrounding Orlandi’s disappearance gripped Italians for more than three decades, and inspired conspiracy theories involving everyone from mobsters to international terrorists, and the highest echelons of the Vatican.
Interest in the case was renewed in summer last year, when the Orlandi family received an anonymous tip, hinting that Emanuela’s remains may be located in the tombs of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Princess Charlotte Federica of Mecklenburg at the Teutonic Cemetery.
cemetery
The family had received an image of a sculpture and an instruction to “look where the angel is pointing.” This led them to the Teutonic Cemetery, which is located adjacent to the grand Saint Peter’s Basilica and is typically reserved for the burials of German-speaking Catholics.
After the Vatican agreed for forensic investigators to open the tombs on July 11, no human remains nor traces of coffins were found. The Vatican indicated that the remains of the princesses may have been removed during renovation work on the cemetery and surrounding buildings in the 1960s and 70s.
Nevertheless, two ossuaries — chambers in which bones of the dead are stored — were uncovered during their investigations beneath the floor of an area inside the Teutonic College.
Investigators subsequently discovered “thousands of bones” in the chambers, which are believed to correspond to “dozens of people,” according to Giorgio Portera, a geneticist appointed by the Orlandi family.

 

Pope and Emanuela Oralndi
Pope John Paul II with Emanuela Oralndi (pink jumper, center), and (from right) her brother Pietro, father Ercole, and mother Maria.nter a caption

 

DNA analysis will now take place on each set of remains, but Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said the precise data will have to await “morphological evaluations next Saturday.”
“It must be considered that many of the bones being dated are shattered and therefore this increases the number present, many of which are small,” Gisotti told CNN. “This means that there may be more fragments of the same bone structure.”
While the origins of the bones remain unknown, Emanuela’s brother, Pietro Orlandi, 60, said the investigation into the ossuaries had been “a great satisfaction.”
“In the ossuaries, there shouldn’t be any recent bones, so if there are, even if it’s not Emanuela Orlandi, it will be a problem for the Vatican,” he told CNN. “There are hundreds, thousands of bones and now the Vatican is classifying them by age and will investigate the more recent ones.
Petro Orlandi
He added that it is important for an independent expert to investigate the bones to ensure the objectivity of the results.
“The Vatican doesn’t want this out and doesn’t want to be seen in this way, but finally I feel like they have taken a step back and we have moved a step forward,” he said.
The Vatican responded in a statement, according to Reuters, saying that it is “once again showing its openness towards the Orlandi family” in agreeing for investigations to take place in the Teutonic Cemetery, even when only based on an “anonymous report.”