Monday, May 21, 2007


It is easy to believe the sexual abuse was an American phenomenon. The lack of inactivity on the part of the Pope has been written off to lack of knowledge. After all, as the apologists say, the Pope had more on his mind than what was going on in the United States.

Well, it wasn't just going on in the United States. In fact it was also going on a whole lot closer to the Papal palace if this article is accurate:

Fr Lelio Cantini, now in his eighties, became the parish priest of Regina della Pace in the mid-Seventies. A self-styled "charismatic", he was accompanied by a clairvoyant woman who had visions of Jesus and drew up lists of those parishioners whom she said were the "elect of God".

Don Lelio ruled the parish with an iron hand, banishing dissidents from Mass and forbidding them absolution. But, in private, he showed a different side: in the church's presbytery he induced girls as young as 10 to have sex with him, explaining that this was a way of attaining "total unity with God".

A woman of 45, married with two children, said she had suppressed all memory of the abuse the priest inflicted on her until a couple of years ago. It started, she explained, when she was aged 10. "The Prior [as Cantini insisted on being called] would call me into his office or his bedroom, get me to undress and explain that, by doing what he asked, I would realise the most complete eucharistic communion," she said.

"He told me to think of the Madonna, who bore Jesus when she was only 12. He said I was the Beloved of the Song of Songs and that what happened between us was the same as what happened in the Garden of Eden." She said the relationship continued for 15 years, and that remembering it even now caused her vomiting attacks. "I was absolutely incapable," she said, "of making a free and aware choice."

Another woman, identified by the initials D A, now in her forties, said her sexual liaison with Fr Cantini "began when I was 17 and continued until I got married. He said I was in need of affection and that he would give it to me. Then he embraced me in the name of Jesus."

The victims kept their memories to themselves until chance reunions prompted them to share their stories and take them to the curia of Florence, the governing body of the church in the city, in January 2004.

And what is the procedure over there in Italy for dealing with an abuser? According to the article:

They made written and oral submissions to the Archbishop of Florence and others - with the sole result that, in September 2005, Fr Cantini was transferred to another parish "for reasons of health".

Sound familiar?

Thanks to the blog Whispers in the Loggia for the link.

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