Cardinal Zuppi announces report on clerical sex abuse in Italy

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, president of the Italian bishops’ conference. Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, president of the Italian bishops’ conference. | Screenshot from CEI Chiesa Cattolica Italiana YouTube channel.

In his first press conference since being selected as president of the Italy’s bishops’ conference, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi announced on Friday plans for a report on clerical sex abuse in the country.

“Our thoughts always go to the victims and that is the first concern,” Zuppi said on May 27.

“We need to strengthen diocesan services for minors and vulnerable people,” he said, according to ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian-language news partner.

The cardinal announced that the report will only cover abuse in the Catholic Church in Italy from the year 2000 to 2021. He said it is due to be released on Nov. 18, 2022.

“There is a willingness peacefully and painfully to clarify, here we evaluate with accuracy … We want fair and true clarity,” Zuppi said.

The possibility of reparations for victims is an open question at this time, according to the cardinal, who said that the consequences for bishops found to have covered up abuse will be “very serious.”

The Italian bishops discussed whether to hold a national inquiry into abuse during the bishops’ plenary assembly in Rome this week.

Italian associations joined together in February to coordinate a movement against abuse in the Church. The network, which calls itself #ItalyChurchToo, is pushing the bishops to carry out an independent investigation into clerical sexual abuse in Italy over the last 70 years.

The consortium sent a letter to the Italian bishops’ conference on May 23 at the start of its general assembly.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston urged Italian bishops on May 25 to work for a “pastoral conversion” in their approach to survivors of clerical sexual abuse.

The head of the Vatican’s abuse commission made the appeal in a video message played on the third day of the bishops’ plenary assembly.

It was announced on May 24 that the pope had chosen Zuppi to lead the Italian bishops’ conference as its president.

The 66-year-old archbishop of the northern Italian city of Bologna has been dubbed the “bicycling cardinal” and has strong ties to the influential Sant’Egidio Community.

During the live-streamed press conference, Zuppi also touched on physician-assisted suicide, which is been a subject of national debate in Italy this year.

In February, Italy’s constitutional court blocked a referendum to decriminalize physician-assisted suicide in the country, citing inadequate legal protections for the weak and vulnerable.

“The doctrine of the Church is very clear,” Zuppi said. “Closeness to suffering remains the fundamental starting point.”

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