Following on from our blog yesterday on Pope Benedict facing scrutiny over the treatment of paedophile priests in the diocese of Munich and Freising, in Germany, the We Are Church International network of groups have called on Pope Francis to establish an independent legal investigation of the files held at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (“CDF”) to determine the global extent of the cover-ups of clerical sex abuse cases.
In the statement requesting the independent legal investigation reference is made to state judges in Ireland investigating clerical abuse cases about 10 years ago who sought relevant files from the office of the Vatican’s CDF which the CDF refused to supply.
The trial of Rev. Gabriele Martinelli for allegedly abusing an altar boy when both were under the age of 18, ended on 6 October 2021, when the Vatican tribunal (in effect, the Pope’s criminal court) acquitted the accused of some charges and found others could not be punished as they had allegedly occurred too long ago. The former rector of the seminary, the Rev. Enrico Radice, was held not to have tried to cover up the alleged abuse.
In a statement, the tribunal said it accepted that there was evidence of there being a sexual relationship between Martinelli (who was not ordained at the time) and the alleged victim, LG, but no proof that LG, who was just seven months younger, had been forced into that relationship.
A trial opened last month in the Vatican’s criminal tribunal for two priests – one accused of sexually abusing an altar boy in the Vatican’s youth seminary and the other accused of covering it up. The trial is the first of its kind to be held within the Vatican.
The Vatican tribunal is comprised of a president and four judges who are chosen from university professors and jurists, with proven experience in civil, criminal or administrative matters.
On 16 July, the Vatican released guidelines for bishops and other senior officials setting out clear and detailed rules on how to deal with clerical child sex abuse claims.
The manual (which includes a form to be filled out detailing the alleged crime against the minors involved) does not include any new laws, but has been drawn up at the express request of Pope Francis who called for procedures to be laid out step-by-step to avoid any further confusion in the area.
On 17 December, 2019, his 83rd birthday, Pope Francis announced long awaited changes to the rules governing how the Roman Catholic Church deals with cases of sexual abuse of children.
Latest developments in the Roman Catholic investigation have included further dates and that the Vatican has refused to co-operate with IICSA’s requests to provide witness evidence about child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.
IICSA was told, on 25 September 2019 at a preliminary hearing about the investigation into the Roman Catholic Church, that the Vatican considered the requests made to it by IICSA were improper and it said that its officials were protected by diplomatic immunity.