An Argentinian court has sentenced two Catholic priests to more than 40 years in prison in Mendoza on Monday after they were found guilty of the sexual abuse of as many as 10 deaf children of a Catholic-run school.
Incidentally, Pope Francis is from Argentina and it has been reported that Church officials, including Pope Francis, were made aware of allegations against one of the convicts as early as in 2014 but the church did not begin an investigation until after he was arrested in 2017. Many Argentinians protested against the refusal by the Church to close down the school and prevent the abusers from having access to their victims.
On Monday, a three-judge panel in the city of Mendoza sentenced Father Nicola Corradi to 42 years and Father Horacio Corbacho to 45 years, as well as gardener Armando Gómez to 18 years, for 20 counts of abuse from 2005 to 2016 at the Antonio Provolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children.
Shockingly, Father Nicola Corradi was earlier investigated for abusing children at the institute’s school in Verona, Italy, in the 1970s, but was never charged.
Sergio Salinas, a lawyer for several victims, called for Pope Francis to “make a public apology.” Salinas said in an interview on Monday that the church has not acted honourably in this case, “It hasn’t just failed to give evidence, it has hidden information,” said Salinas furthering, “It has failed to recognize the facts and has mocked the victims by not recognizing them as such and saying that their testimony is unbelievable.”
The Catholic Church across the globe has faced an avalanche of child sexual abuse crime in the last few decades and Pope Francis has been long accused of helping to cover up such sexual misconducts.
In fact, last year, former papal nuncio (ambassador) to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, had unleashed a new controversy on the Vatican as he claimed in an open letter that Pope Francis was aware of the sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI’s sanctions against him, and yet did nothing to punish but went to elevate him to a position where he was helping choose powerful American Bishops. Vigano had also called for the resignation of the Pope.
Recently, three more former altar boys had accused two Catholic priests of sexually abusing them inside Vatican Church. These fresh allegations come just months after Catholic leaders had gathered for an unprecedented summit at the Vatican to tackle widespread paedophilia within the church. At the close of the summit in February, Pope Francis promised the church would “spare no effort” in bringing abusers to justice and would not cover up or underestimate abuse.