Italian sexual abuse victims want Pope Benedict to speak out
Abuse victim Dario Laiti is deaf and has great difficulty speaking. But he has a clear message for Pope Benedict: expose predator priests, past and present, living and dead, for the good of the Church.
“I think the pope has to carry out justice. He has to get rid of all the priests who abused children. He has to tell the world who these people were and which of them are still living,” Laiti told Reuters in the northern Italian city of Verona.
So far, the pope has not spoken out directly on the new wave of sexual abuse allegations that is hounding the Church in a number of countries, including the United States, Italy and his native Germany.
Laiti, 59, and others who say they were abused as boys in the Church-run Antonio Provolo School for the deaf decades ago have joined a growing list of victims who are calling on the pontiff to say more and directly address the crisis.
The diocese of Verona has opened an investigation into the accusations. It says while some abuse may have taken place at the school in the 1950s and 1960s, it was not as extensive as some of the former Provolo students claim.
Victims have come forward in many places, including Germany and the United States. But Laiti and his former schoolmates stand out in a country where the Roman Catholic Church still wields enormous power.
“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Marco Politi, a Vatican analyst and papal biographer.