APRIL 9, 2019 STATEMENT BY: Francesco Zanardi
President of Rete L’Abuso (the ABUSE Network )

Geneva 7 February 2019: “The Committee is concerned about the numerous cases of children being sexually abused by religious personnel of the Catholic Church in the territory of the Member State and for the low number of criminal investigations and prosecutions by the Italian judiciary”.

These are not our words but those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, more precisely those contained in the recommendations of 7 February (point 21 of the report) that the Committee for the Rights of the Child disputes with Italy – in this case – against the Italian Justice, but continuing, in the same document, also against the Italian Government defaulting and conniving, to the detriment of Italian minors “sacrificed to the clergy” for mere diplomatic relationship, with a foreign state, leader in the world for pedophilia: the Vatican.

What I will tell you has been widely documented and confirmed also by two investigative journalists, Emanuela Provera and Federico Tulli, who have even made a book “Giustizia divina” (publisher-Chiarelettere).

It all starts in 2014, when, after four years of activity of the newly formed Associazione Rete LʻABUSO, the documents of the various criminal cases that the association was following throughout Italy starting to arrive.

I began to notice, in various precautionary measures of the various prosecutors of the Republic of our peninsula, that many priests under investigation and under house arrest, many of them ended up in five structures, scattered from north to south of Italy. Although I had noticed this, I didn’t get to anything specific.

But in November 2016, in the middle of the night and seized by euphoria, my colleague from the Verona association for deaf students who were abused in the Catholic Institute Antonio Provolo in Verona, called me. He told me that Don Nicola Corradi (a paedophile priest who fled Verona in 1970) was arrested in Mendoza (Argentina). With him three other people.

The colleague asks me for help, they have thirty years of papers of the alleged victims (a hundred deaf children, now adults, who have never obtained justice), of the 27 priests and lay brothers accused of abuses in the Provolo of Verona, an infinite correspondence between them and the diocese. But in that tide of documents produced, they didn’t know where to start.

The folder was actually huge and incomprehensible to me, I didn’t even know the facts well, nor the characters. I decided then to make the first selection, eliminating all the documentation relating to deceased priests, and other data at that time not detected or incomprehensible, which I later saw again in a clearer context.

It was during that selection that at a certain point I arrived at Don Giuseppe Pernigotti. My eye fell on him because the Provolo Institute is a Congregation of Pontifical Right and the congregations, in general, even when they transfer them, always keep the priests inside them. Don Pernigotti instead no. It was, in my opinion strangely, to Fabrica (VT). I thought that I had to go deeper.

I searched on the internet and “tombola”, at first sight, I discover that Don Pernigotti was the President of the FIAS (Italian Federation of Priest Assistance) and while surfing the site, I understood about the FIAS assistance structures. A blow came to me, they were the same structures that returned to me in the documents of the various Italian prosecutors, the same to which the suspected priests were entrusted to the domiciliation. (Data confirmed by the heads of the structures and contained in the book-inquiry Divine Justice)

I decide that the issue must be deepened, but I don’t know how: a similar investigation is very expensive, and Rete L’Abuso does not have the resources.

I spent a few weeks, crossing the data I acquired. They were all connected, but I didn’t understand, until an LA7 journalist, Luca Bertazzoni, calls me asking if I had any case. I take the ball by introducing Don Pernigotti as one of the accused by Provolo’s students. I told Bertazzoni that I found him at Fabrica, where, in the meantime, I had sent an associate of ours to verify that he was the same Pernigotti of the Provolo. Luca Bertazzoni did the service, here he is:

Link to the video: https://youtu.be/5VyE-IbJa4Y

It emerges that Don Giuseppe Pernigotti manages or, at least, is at the head of a structure that appears to be assisting priests, but favouring them with a series of professionals and solutions that help them avoid civil justice. In the follow up of my investigation I discover that the FIAS is present throughout Italy, the one managed by Pernigotti was only the headquarters, whose website disappeared immediately after the service of LA7.

Finally, in my mind, many circles had closed and what was previously smoky, now it was very clear, too much. But who was I going to tell him about? I also knew that it was Justice itself that entrusted those under suspicion or the condemned to those facilities.

However, thanks to that service by Bertazzoni, who had pretended to be a pedophile priest and to whom don Giuseppe Pernigotti gave a “pizzino” with the indications, names and phone numbers to which to turn, I made a more detailed check. In the “pizzino” indicated the Agape Community that I already knew, but going deeper I will discover something that worries me. The Community is based in Via Forte Bravetta 338 (in the map on the side is indicated by the purple square) and borders with the Department of Penitentiary Administration, the National Autonomous Police Union and a dislocated seat of the Ministries of Grace and Justice. Of course from there, to advance and argue that there was a “cover-up” network run by the church and tolerated by the Italian state, what I had was not enough.

While deepening all this, I had repeatedly compared myself with one of the two authors of the book, Federico Tulli, a person I have known since 2010, whom I esteem and trust and with whom I often compare myself as he is also very experienced in the subject, already author of two books: “Church and pedophilia” and “Church and pedophilia the Italian case”.

Federico and Emanuela had already begun to investigate since the beginning of 2015, launching a journalistic investigation that will last almost three years, visiting these structures in person, interviewing those who direct them and documenting them. During their investigation, the number of facilities rises to 18, today we have identified 21.

What are these structures and how do they provide the clergy with impunity from prison?
(as you will discover in the book “Giustizia Divina” not only to paedophile priests)

As also confirmed by Provera and Tulli, who were able to enter in those structures, they appear as normal pensioners, with bedrooms, common areas, TVs etc. There is no control of the police, as normally happens to those who are under house arrest. You can receive visits, or at least nothing prevents it.

You can enter and exit with extreme ease. A group of priests in 2016 have confirmed that: worried about the comings and goings of faces known to the judicial chronicles, they pointed out the Villa Sacro Cuore (PG) structure.

But the most sensational case, which once again confirms the criticality as well as the lightness of the “home detentions” enjoyed by the clergy, is the case of Don Ruggero Conti, definitively sentenced to 14 years on the charge of having abused 7 children between 10 and 12 years old. He never did a day in jail (health reasons), he too was entrusted to a facility (which we will later discover used to care for adolescents) from which, without difficulty, in September 2017 he escaped, with so much money at his disposal to afford a taxi from Rome to Milan.

These are just a few cases and they are by no means the reason why Rete L’Abuso is firmly convinced – at this point, as we shall see, until there is evidence to the contrary – that exists between the Italian State and the Church, a tacit agreement that guarantees to the clergy impunity from prison.

We provide some numbers and some other data

From how it emerges on our map, removed the priests still awaiting trial, we count in the last 15 years, in Italy, at least 143 sentences definitively, we ignore which is the real submerged.

The authors of the book “Divine Justice” took the trouble, not only to verify what I claimed about the structures but, having removed the juvenile and female prisons, they asked the other 191 Italian prison facilities, how many priests have in charge.

125 prisons replied; only five priests, one of whom was convicted of pedophilia.

And all the others, what happened to them?

The perception for public opinion is that justice takes its course and condemnations, while instead most often do not make a single day in prison, on the contrary, the anomaly at this point rises on those 4 plus the 5th paedophile, who had a similar difference in treatment compared to other colleagues.

But the “holy” privileges and “divine” immunities that the Italian State provides to the clergy, unfortunately, are not limited to this and the damage to society, on this turn, is even worse.

I speak of the c.d. anti-pedophilia certificate, from which, by courtesy of the legislator, the clergy is exempt. And it is here that the connivance between state and church really scrapes the bottom of the barrel because on the constitutional basis it is already anomalous that a category should be privileged with this exemption: privileging only the priests would have been really too conspicuous and so, our legislator, not has exempted the priests, but precisely the whole category to which they belong, volunteering. Paradoxically, the category has always been more at risk.

Thanks to this luminary choice of the legislator – which legally becomes a civil responsibility – today paedophiles, not just priests, know that the Italian state has reserved volunteering for them, as a fertile hunting ground.

One of our legal advisors, the lawyer Mario Caligiuri of the Court of Rome (holder of the dossier in question) explains, with regard to the canonical rite, that “In this way it is generated by another court, in advance of the celebration of the ordinary rite, an unreasonable imbalance in favour of the alleged abuser »

“Not only is the assistance of the defender of those who has denounced the abuse not admitted in the ecclesiastical justice hall, but above all the psychological support of technicians with proven experience legitimized to work because the victim, a person who has suffered one, is denied. emotional upheaval does not incur the creation of false memories. Until it fails to comply with the provisions for the care and support of victims of the Lanzarote Convention “.

“Thinking about counter-examination, the most disturbing figure emerges from the side of constitutional guarantees.

The defence of a priest, already accused of abuses by the Vatican, has the advantage of acquiring, before the possible Italian trial, the narrative re-enactment that the victim will give of the historical fact, the weak points on which to tread the hand, the peculiarities even character, its emotional reality ».

With this information, you have the chance to make it fall into contradiction. “It is no coincidence that the reciprocal study of the adversary is a given that lawyers treat a lot in the processes – confirms Caligiuri -. We are therefore in the presence of unequal treatment in favour of Catholic priests compared to any other Italian citizen ».

In 2012, Italy ratified this protocol for the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Countries that are not members of the Council of Europe can also join, but the Vatican has never done so.

However, the canonical trials take place in the dioceses, on Italian soil, and this is, in fact, a violation by the church that, thanks to the complicity of the Italian institutions, which pretend not to see, finds not only the constitutional guarantees of citizens disregarded but also various international treaties and conventions to which Italy has adhered.

But there is more to support our accusations against the state. The complicit silence of the institutions

“An important excerpt from the movie Spotlight, at the end he cites those that in 2000, like today in Italy, were the centers that Rete L’Abuso and the book “Divine Justice”, we denounce today in Italy”. Richard Sipe, who worked in the treatment centers and who in this article we cite for his report, as part of the “Projections” on the phenomenon in Italy is already mentioned.

Among the most industrialized countries, Italy is the only one that has never considered – despite the impressive data emerging from other countries – the need to quantify the extent of the phenomenon.

The Irish colleague Mark Vincent Healy, an expert on statistics, based on the data emerged from the governmental inquiry commissions carried out all over the world has produced a projection of the Italian data, the extent of the abuses in Italy has the potential to be the greatest of any country.





















And yet we did not lack the stimuli and requests to the Government to tackle the problem.

– On 27 September 2017, thanks to the Deputy Matteo Mantero, Rete L’Abuso manages to deposit in Italy the first parliamentary question addressed to PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS, MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR, MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND COOPERATION INTERNATIONAL.

To date, no answer, the question still lies on the website of the Chamber of Deputies.–On 19 February 2018, through the lawyer Mario Caligiuri, the ABUSE Network sends a warning to the following institutions; PRESIDENCY OF THE REPUBLIC, PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS, REGIONAL INFORMATION CENTER OF THE UNITED NATIONS – UN COMMITTEE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD, PRESIDENCY OF THE 12TH SOCIAL AFFAIRS COMMISSION.

Also, in this case, there will be no response from the Italian institutions.

–On October 18, 2018, again the Lawyer Mario Caligiuri, on behalf of Rete L’Abuso, denounces the Government to the Judicial Authority, based on the non-response and the consequent serious non-fulfilment by the State against minor citizens, already known from previous communications.

A few days later, this file will also be archived. Although it contained news of a crime, the Public Prosecutor’s Office limited itself, in the reasons, to file for territorial incompetence.

The whole affair was reported by the Associazione Rete L ‘ABUSO, to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, among the documents of the 80th section held in Geneva on 22 and 23 January.

On 7 February 2019, the Committee for the Rights of the Child of the United Nations gave us reason, disputing to the Italian State the points we report below, which only concern the matter that Rete the ABUSE, by Statute, pursues. (here the full text in Italian)

The video of the UN Committee Member Jorge Cardona who raised the topic during the two days of the session, is also shown on the video. The intervention is very short, the Italian State, even in that place did not give answers but limited itself to exposing, as measures, the same points that were the subject of the dispute.

Video of the interrogation of UN to Italy:

Below, in point 21 of the recommendations of the Committee for the Rights of the Child, as contested by Italy by the United Nations. Here are the points raised in our “Justice Report on the Italy case” speaker for the Network LUSA ABUSO Francesco Zanardi.

Exploitation and sexual abuse

Point 21 welcomes the national plan for preventing and combating the abuse and sexual exploitation of children 2015-2017 and the revitalization of the Observatory to combat pedophilia and child pornography, the Committee is concerned about the many cases of children victims of sexual abuse by religious personnel of the Catholic Church in the territory of the Member State and for the low number of criminal investigations and prosecutions by the Italian judiciary. With reference to its previous recommendations (CRC / C / ITA / CO / 3-4, par. 75) and to the general comment n. 13 (2011) on the child’s right to freedom and against all forms of violence against him and taking note of Objective 16.2 for Sustainable Development, the Committee recommends that Italy:

(a) Adopt, with the active involvement of children, a new national plan to prevent and combat the abuse and sexual exploitation of children and ensure their uniform implementation throughout its territory and at all levels of government;

(b) Establish an independent and impartial commission of inquiry to examine all cases of sexual abuse of children by Catholic Church religious personnel;

(c) Guarantee the transparent and effective investigation of all cases of sexual violence allegedly committed by religious personnel of the Catholic Church, the prosecution of the alleged perpetrators, the adequate criminal punishment of those who have been found guilty, and the compensation and rehabilitation of child victims, including those who have become adults;

(d) Establish sensitive channels for children, for children and others, to report on the violence suffered;

(e) Protect children from further abuse, inter alia by ensuring that people convicted of child abuse are prevented and dissuaded from contact with children, particularly at a professional level;

(f) Undertake all efforts towards the Holy See to remove obstacles to the effectiveness of criminal proceedings against the Catholic Church’s religious suspected of violence against minors, particularly in the Lateran Pacts revised in 1985, to combat impunity of such acts;

(g) To make the reporting of any alleged violence against children to the competent authorities of the Member State obligatory for everyone, even for the religious personnel of the Catholic Church;

(h) Amend the legislation implementing the Lanzarote Convention to ensure that it does not exclude volunteering, including the Catholic Church’s religious personnel, from its prevention and protection tools.

With the Motu Proprio, Pope Francis confirms impunity from the penal trial for priests who abuse minors outside the Vatican and embassies.

It would be advisable, as well as a duty to report, for constitutional duty, that the press ask the State to account for this serious situation. But except for the Left magazine, which in recent years has given visibility to the case, everything is silent, despite our complaints.


Francesco Zanardi
President of Rete L’Abuso (the ABUSE Network )(Association of survivors of sexual abuse of the clergy),
one of the Founding Members of www.ECAGlobal.org and President of the Human Rights Connect ABUSE Network.
Associazione Rete L’ABUSO, via Pietro Giuria 3/28 Savona 17100 – C.F. 92109400090
Puoi contattarci dal lunedì al venerdì al numero +39 – 392 7030000 oppure puoi scriverci a questa mail: info@retelabuso.org