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'Absolution Prayers': Victims of Vatican Priests' Sexual Violence Demand Justice

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At least 22 children with hearing disabilities were sexually abused by Catholic priests at a school for deaf-mute minors in Argentina. Sputnik Italy spoke with Marco Lodi Rizzini, the press secretary for the local branch of a Catholic school for deaf children.

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Police arrested 82-year old priest Nicola Corradi and four other suspects who are facing charges of sexual and physical child abuse at the Antonio Provolo Institute in northwestern Mendoza province.

If found guilty the accused could be sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.

“Before he was arrested in Argentina, Don Corradi committed similar crimes at a school for the deaf in Verona, Italy, where he served before he was ordained priest. He later moved to Argentina” Marco Rizzini said in an interview with Sputnik Italy.

Hundreds of children were reportedly sexually assaulted over the years by priests and religious brothers at the school in Verona.

“None of them was brought to justice or even defrocked. Some of them are already dead and six are still serving now. They are old now, live in Verona and keep working with children!” Marco Rizzini fumed.

“The victims, now in their fifties and sixties, want justice to finally prevail. We are asking Pope Francis to defrock these people who are too old now to be arrested.”

Marco Rizzini said they were also going to bring the case before the European Court of Human Rights.

“In 2011, the Vatican demanded that a commission be set up to look into these accusations. The commission worked three months and eighteen months later we got a letter from the Vatican, which said that the charges had been proved and that the culprits had been ‘punished’ and ordered to pray for absolution,” he scoffed.

“Last year we asked the Pope to set up a commission, independent from the Vatican, to investigate all cases of sexual abuse happening in Italy and elsewhere in the world.  We also wanted access to church archives, but we are still waiting for an answer. As for the government, it provides no oversight over the religious institutions,” Marco Rizzini complained.

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Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf is a Catholic school for deaf children in Verona, Italy. It was founded in 1895 by a priest, Antonio Provolo.

After the first reports about cases of sexual abuse of children transpired, some of the “pastors” were sent out to serve in Argentina.

In June, Pope Francis warned that Catholic bishops and other senior officials neglecting investigation into child sexual abuse by priests would be sacked.

Stricter guidelines for the clergy come after the Catholic Church was criticized for covering up abuse of minors by its priests in Europe and North America, prompting the Pontiff to vow a zero-tolerance approach.

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