Pedophile Priest: Church Assures that It Already Removed a Bishop
Repercussions from Mario Sasso’s 17-Year Prison Sentence
It was in 2005 that the Vatican displaced the bishop of Zárate for “not isolating” Sasso.
By Sergio Rubín
November 14, 2007
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
The priest who violated five girls – and who yesterday was sentenced to 17 years in prison – was the catalyst for the downfall of his superior, the then-bishop of Zarate-Campana, Rafael Rey, who didn’t remove him from religious duties within his ministry, and instead sent him to a chapel where he coordinated the children’s soup kitchen.
The Vatican’s decision to displace Rey in 2005 came after a written complaint presented to the Apostolic Nunciature by a group of priests, religious members and laypersons led by the well-known nun, Martha Pelloni. “The Nuncio evidently acted and I am glad that the Church has taken the bull by the horns,” said Pelloni yesterday to radio Continental.
Pelloni explained that the Church’s movement on the issue began when she met at a theological seminary with the catechist Lía López, who worked at the chapel of Father Napoleon Sasso. López told her about her growing suspicions about Sasso’s behavior, and her enormous anguish because the bishopric was not confronting the problem with the time and effort it deserved.
When the evidence was undeniable -- girls went to the dining room crying; child pornography was found on the priest’s computer – signatures were gathered from 150 priests and hundreds of laypersons to ask the Vatican to intervene.
“Thank God the Church started to take on this problem,” said Pelloni.
Rey – who in the 1990s was the protagonist of the media’s coverage and criticism of Argentina’s rising poverty and unemployment – was replaced by Monsignor Oscar Sarlina, who didn’t delay in instituting a procedure to handle eventual cases of pedophile priests.
Sasso, who belongs to the archdiocese of San Juan, was transferred to a “rehabilitation centre” in the diocese of Zarate–Campana to be treated for his “pedophilic tendencies.” After two years there, he left with the strict order “to not be in the company of children,” much less alone with them.
But he ended up in charge of a chapel and children’s dining room. Rey, along with the parish priest (presiding over the area where the chapel is located) and the vicar, were accused of a cover-up. Rey was absolved and the other two served a probation.
Sasso was sentenced for violating five very impoverished girls who were between 5 and 12 years of age. Initially, he attempted to flee to Paraguay, and was ultimately detained at a tollbooth. He got married in prison, for which he asked and was granted the withholding of his exercise of the priesthood. As a result, no ecclesial sanction can be applied to him since he is “outside their hierarchical structure.”