Five years after the Pope was elected, the voice of victims abused by Catholic clergy has become louder. A group of victims in Verona, Italy have made complaints about sexual abuse at a home for the deaf between the 1950s and 80s.
Gianni Bisoli claims he was one such victim. He said:
“When I was 11, the sexual intercourse started, in the dormitory, in the toilets, very often we were sodomised in the toilets. It went on for four years. Another priest used to tell me ‘Do not talk.’”
Impunity for the abusers, cover-ups, victims sworn to silence. These are some of the recurring allegations made against the Catholic heirachy. Among numerous scandals in different nations, accusations have been made in the Pope’s own home country. At one school, the Jesuit order says it regrets not taking seriously enough a letter from children in 1981 which alluded to abuse.
Friedrich Stolze, headmaster at the Sankt Ansgar Schule said:
“It’s absolutly terrible. I had a victim’s mother on the telephone who told me that her boy, who now must be around 40, has a serious psychiatric illness. I’ve spoken with the victim directly. I am ashamed for the school. It’s simply terrible.”
In some of the scandals, the name of Pope Benedict crops up due to his previous role as head of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal watchdog office. A letter signed by Joseph Ratzinger in 1985 shows that he resisted efforts to defrock a priest who molested children in California. He cited concerns about how it would impact on what he called “the good of the universal church.”
Another former bishop says everything moved slowly. He says when they first started to move against the priest, Cardinal Ratzsinger was not on the scene. But he says that when he took over, he was following what the practice at the time was, that Pope John Paul II was slowing these things down. He says that, at the time, you didn’t just walk out of the priesthood.