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Italian bishops release report evaluating diocesan efforts to prevent abuse

November 17, 2022 Catholic News Agency 0
Press conference held by the Italian bishops’ conference on Nov. 17, 2022 to present a national report on the protection of minors within Italy’s 226 Catholic dioceses. / YouTube Screenshot

Rome Newsroom, Nov 17, 2022 / 05:40 am (CNA).

Catholic bishops in Italy released a national report on Thursday evaluating the recent implementation of diocesan services to aid victims of abuse across the country. 

The report published on Nov. 17 provided data from 90 listening centers and on the establishment of other resources for the protection of minors within Italy’s 226 Catholic dioceses. Its scope was limited to the two-year period from 2020 to 2021, years when lockdowns in Italy restricted movement and in-person gatherings.

The Italian bishops have said that the release of the report represents “the immediate and concrete implementation” of  Pope Francis’ call in April for the Protection of Minors to produce an annual report on what the Catholic Church is doing around the world to prevent the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.

The report found that 70% of dioceses in Italy had set up counseling centers and that nearly 20,000 people participated in diocesan training sessions on child protection in 2020 and 2021.

The data from the diocesan listening centers included 13 reports of sexual harassment, 21 reports of “touching,” 4 reports of pornography, and 9 reports of “sexual relations” across Italy over the two-year period with a total of 89 people who reported the violations.

According to the report, 68 alleged offenders were defined as 30 clerics, 23 laypeople, and 15 religious and the alleged incidents took place mainly at the parish (33%), at the headquarters of a movement or association (21%), or in a seminary (11.9%).

The first national report on the protection of minors in the Catholic Church in Italy was prepared by the Piacenza branch of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart.

It was released one day ahead of Italy’s National Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse. The Italian bishops established the day of prayer to align with the European Day for the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse established by the Council of ‘Europe on November 18, 2020.

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the president of the Italian bishops’ conference, has said that the bishops also plan to issue a separate national report on clerical sex abuse in the country that would cover abuse in the Catholic Church in Italy from the year 2000 to 2021. According to Reuters, Zuppi said that this future report will be carried out  “in collaboration with independent research institutes.”

Zuppi said in May that the consequences for bishops found to have covered up abuse would be “very serious.”


The Dispatch

Analysis: The significance of Cardinal Zuppi celebrating with Summorum Pontificum pilgrims

October 31, 2022 Catholic News Agency 6
President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi (center) attends the consistory for the creation of new cardinals at St. Peter’s Basilica on Aug. 27, 2022, in Vatican City. / Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Rome Newsroom, Oct 31, 2022 / 10:00 am (CNA).

The head of the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, presided over Vespers on Friday for an annual Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) pilgrimage to Rome.

The pilgrimage is named after Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which acknowledged the right of all priests to offer Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, which is in Latin.

The Traditional Latin Mass pilgrimage, organized by the People of Summorum Pontificum, is in its 11th year. 

In other words, it predates the recent restrictions and changes decreed by Pope Francis, and Zuppi made it clear: There are no special “signs” to be interpreted by his attendance. 

Zuppi, 67, said he had received an invitation to participate before he was appointed president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. He agreed to it, “not thinking there was anything wrong.” 

Nonetheless, Zuppi’s participation in the pilgrimage, which brings to Rome thousands of pilgrims who favor the Traditional Latin Mass, had a particular, if not surprising, impact.

The pilgrimage over the years has seen several cardinals and archbishops celebrate for the numerous pilgrims. 

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera celebrated with the pilgrims in 2012 in St. Peter’s Basilica when he was prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Yet, Cañizares — who recently retired as archbishop of Valencia, Spain — was among those who practically applied Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis Custodes to the letter, suspending the celebration of the TLM in his archdiocese.

Traditionis custodes is the July 16, 2021, motu proprio in which Pope Francis placed sweeping restrictions on the celebration of Mass using the 1962 Roman Missal, known variously as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, and the Traditional Latin Mass. (You can read a further explanation of the document here.)

While some bishops, such as Cañizares, applied the restrictions to the letter, Zuppi, in his archdiocese of Bologna, found a pragmatic solution. 

The cleric, who has a reputation as the “bicycling cardinal,” also took into account the particular sensitivity of the faithful of the diocese.

In a decree, Zuppi noted that a traditional community had immediately started in Bologna after Summorum Pontificum and that this celebration had already met the requirements of Traditionis Custodes

So the cardinal decided to keep everything as it was — except to find another non-parish church — allowing the faithful to attend the Traditional Latin Mass.

Indeed, Zuppi emphasized that “the liturgical tradition has given an unmistakable mark to our local Church. It is a garden to be cultivated with renewed love and passion without ever resigning ourselves to weariness and laziness, which — even when they do not degenerate into abuses — end up weakening the formidable strength of the liturgy from which the Church is born and always is built.”

Zuppi’s decision should not come as a surprise, considering that as a bishop, he also accepted invitations to celebrate the TLM.

His participation in this year’s Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage was to be expected.

Recently, Zuppi also visited the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) in Gricigliano, near Florence. 

The ICKSP also celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass, and Zuppi was reportedly impressed by the many seminarians.

While an experienced pastor and much-respected bishop, Zuppi is not considered a “traditionalist” or “conservative” and is known for his active support of the Community of Sant’Egidio.

His tendency to act as a builder of bridges is also noticeable in a fragmented College of Cardinals. 

Pope Francis appointed Zuppi as a member of the Dicastery of the Eastern Churches. He is already a member of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The archbishop of Bologna, therefore, increases his duties in the Curia, becoming a member of a very important dicastery.

Do all these moves make Zuppi a candidate for the succession of Pope Francis? That is idle speculation. How the cardinal-electors might decide in a possible conclave remains to be seen.

The only tangible fact is that Zuppi does not want to be divisive. Instead, he is building bridges — which might yet prove to be an essential role in a Church marred by tensions and divisions.


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‘Bicycling cardinal’ is new leader of Italy’s Catholic bishops’ conference

May 24, 2022 Catholic News Agency 1
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna, Italy, in St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 5, 2019. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Vatican City, May 24, 2022 / 07:37 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has chosen Cardinal Matteo Zuppi as the next president of the Italian bishops’ conference following a vote on Tuesday.

Zuppi, 66, has a reputation as the “bicycling cardinal” for his propensity to cycle around the northern Italian city of Bologna, which he has led as archbishop since 2015.

He also has strong ties to the influential Sant’Egidio Community.

The cardinal was chosen to lead the Episcopal Conference of Italy (CEI) during the group’s 76th general assembly, taking place in Rome on May 23-27.

Pope Francis had previously asked the Italian bishops to adopt a new statute that would allow them to elect the president themselves, but the bishops preferred to leave the choice to the pope, who as Bishop of Rome is also the Primate of Italy.

Under a compromise arrangement, the bishops presented a list of the three candidates with the most votes to the pope, who could then choose between the three or opt for a different candidate.

Zuppi succeeds 80-year-old Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, who led the bishops’ conference for a five-year term beginning in 2017.

Pope Francis made Zuppi a cardinal in 2019. For years, the Rome native has been listed among the “papabili” — possible future popes — but has made light of the speculation.

Before being transferred to Bologna, Zuppi was an auxiliary bishop of Rome for three years. He was responsible for the city’s historic center area, which includes the Trastevere neighborhood, where the headquarters of the Sant’Egidio Community is located.

Sant’Egidio is a Catholic lay association that aids migrants and promotes ecumenism. It has also helped negotiate reconciliation, including by holding peace talks in countries like Mozambique and South Sudan.