It’s hard for the Catholic Church to say child sex abuse is a thing of the past when new cases continue to arise.
It’s even harder to pretend the problem is solved when it occurs in the Vatican, and the culprit is an altar boy with direct proximity to Pope Francis.
And you know the Catholic Church’s top leaders are full of shit when that same altar boy, whose abuses have been well-documented over the years and reported to authorities, is still allowed to become a priest.
That story is told in great detail in a new piece in the Washington Post by Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli. They explain how Gabriele Martinelli used his position of power as an altar boy to pressure his own peers into sex in a way that quickly descended into abuse:
“Right now a boy is there who should no longer be there,” read an anonymous letter sent to Pope Francis and several cardinals in 2013, informing the just-elected pontiff of an alleged offender “20 meters away from where you sleep.”
… By 2013, the complaints about Martinelli had been communicated to the pope and a who’s who of cardinals and bishops. The next year, the Vatican’s third-ranking official wrote a letter that referred to the accusations and asserted that the pope “knows the case well.”
And yet, in 2017, Martinelli was ordained a priest.
It was only after the Italian media jumped on that story, in the wake of Martinelli becoming a priest, that the Vatican finally did something about it, putting him on trial for sex abuse.
But the bigger question is why the Vatican didn’t do anything for years despite having access to more than enough information to know this was a person who could not be trusted in a position of authority. We know one of the reasons: They just didn’t think he was capable of sex abuse because he and at least one of his victims were roughly the same age… totally ignoring the power dynamic between them.
One high-level church official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to summarize internal church thinking, said the Vatican had believed Martinelli “could not be accused of sex abuse” because he was just 221 days older than the fellow altar boy. People familiar with the case say this assumption was reflected in the church’s response to warnings and caused authorities to overlook a key factor in the relationship between Martinelli and the alleged victim: Martinelli had the power.
It wasn’t some extraordinary amount of power, but it was power that mattered to people in his position — sort of like being a class president or captain of the football team. Martinelli used it to take advantage of others as young as 13. And the Vatican didn’t care.
One of the victims even explained his attempts to save himself:
He said Martinelli kept coming back — hundreds of times over six years. The alleged victim said he occasionally fought back, or tried to make noise, pounding a bedside table or punching a wall, hoping to scare Martinelli off and draw a supervisor’s attention. But he said he was also terrified of being labeled a homosexual, losing his spot at the seminary and being sent back to his northern Italian hometown, where his home parish calendar showed a photo of him standing next to the pope. Because of Martinelli’s status, the alleged victim said, the sexual activity became “a ritual I could not resist.”
The Vatican. Did. Not. Care.
Read the whole story. Read about all the people who knew what was happening and all the people who tried to alert them to no avail. Read about how little the Church cares about victims if it means putting the institution in a bad light.
Then remember all the people who continue giving money to this deranged criminal enterprise because they believe the faith is a force for good.
(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to everyone for the link)