Italy’s bishops respond to long-ignored clergy sex abuse

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Source: Associated Press

By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Italy’s Catholic bishops are declaring a new era of transparency and truth about clergy sex abuse, as awareness of the scandal that has convulsed much of the Catholic world begins to take hold in a country where it was long ignored.

Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, said Thursday that a national advisory center of lay and religious experts is being created to help dioceses educate personnel about protecting children and help bishops investigate abuse reports.

Italy’s bishops have lagged behind their counterparts in much of the West in confronting clergy sex abuse. Their first guidelines, published in 2014, made clear bishops were under no obligation to report crimes to police.

While the scandal hasn’t yet erupted in Italy on the scale that it has elsewhere, there have been several high-profile cases of abuse and cover-up by bishops that show the Italian church is by no means immune to the problem.

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