New head of Italian bishops faces demands for abuse inquiry

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi (CNS/Paul Haring)

The Church in Italy is under mounting pressure to confront its legacy of clerical sexual abuse with an independent inquiry. Source: NCR Online.

It comes as Pope Francis yesterday named Cardinal Matteo Zuppi as the new head of the Italian bishops conference. Cardinal Zuppi, 66, is the archbishop of Bologna and has long been affiliated with the Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic charity particularly close to Francis.

The Church in Italy is one of the few in Western Europe that has not opened its archives to independent researchers to establish the scope of abuse and cover-up in recent decades.

Whether by government mandate, parliamentary investigation or Church initiation, such reports in Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France, for example, have shown systematic problems that allowed thousands of children to be abused by Catholic priests. The churches in Spain and Portugal have recently agreed to launch similar investigations.

But the Church in Italy has so far resisted demands from survivors, advocacy groups and the media to follow suit, though conference officials have said they were awaiting the appointment of a new president this month before announcing anything.

Cardinal Zuppi’s outgoing predecessor, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, referred to the issue in general in his final speech Tuesday but made no commitments.

“We confirm our commitment to protecting minors and preventing abuse,” he told his brother bishops. “We intend to promote a better understanding of the phenomenon of abuse to evaluate and make measures of protection and prevention more efficient,” he said, without elaborating.


New Italian church head faces demands for abuse inquiry (NCR Online)

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