Another Priest Tried for Sex Abuse
Once again, Argentine society should be lamenting and outraged by another case of sexual abuse by a priest against a minor.
By Jorge Luis Calcagno
September 23, 2012
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
The protagonists of this judicial case, which began on August 21, 2012 at the Federal Criminal Court in Buenos Aires, are Fernando Enrique Picciochi, ex-priest and teacher at the Marianista de Caballito School, and Sebastián Cuattromo, now 36 years old, who reportedly suffered abuse at the hands of Picciochi when he was a student at the School.
Twenty-two years have passed since the time of the abuses, and, it seems, justice has finally arrived.
It can’t be overlooked that Picciochi previously managed to flee to the United States where, purely by accident, he was detained, found with false identification, and later extradited to our country.
The trial, just as it’s been portrayed in the Argentine media, is in full swing. High-profile witnesses have given their accounts, including the specialists who treated not only Cuattromo but also two of his peers at the Marianista School who were likewise abused, although they did not press charges. The specialists detailed the damage caused by the abuses to which the boys were subject, and gave other important details in their presentations.
For their part, the head of the Marianista School, and the accused, Fernando Picciochi declared that the abuses were nothing more than “an inappropriate game.”
In 1991, the Marianista School learned of the incidents and attempted to keep them from going public by offering compensation to the victims.
In his declaration, Enrique Jorge Martín, a former President of the Marianista School, testified to the immense power in those days that the priests had over the children and their families, and the severe disciplinary measures they took with their students.
Several institutions presented amicus curiae briefs [legal opinions] that were admitted by the Court. Among them were the Committee for Oversight and Implementation of International Conventions for Children’s Rights
In all liklihood, the Court will announce the verdict this week, since all planned testimonies and declarations have been given, and the defense has made their statements.
In anticipation of the ruling, we’d likely to emphasize two points of concern for us, and we believe, for Argentine society at large. The first is the alarming number of pedophile priests in the world, in general,and in our country, in particular. The second is the disconnect on the subject that seems to exist between the stance of Pope Benedict XVI and that of the Church of Argentina.
Regarding our first point of concern, we regret, by way of example, the cases of Ángel Tarcisio Acosta, sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges of corruption and violation of minors; the priest, José Francisco Armendariz, pastor of Palmira, Mendoza, who impregnated an minor (Armendariz refused to take a paternity test, the court obligated him, the result was 99.99% positive, and he was ordered to pay child support); the priest, Walter Eduardo Avanzini, caught on camera in Córdoba when he offered money to a minor in exchange for sexual services (the bishop of Rio Cuarto, in the face of the damning evidence against Avanzini, put him up at a spiritual retreat home).
Without getting carried away, since the list is regrettably much longer, let’s not forget the most well-known cases: Archbishop of Santa Fe, Edgardo Storni,; Bishop Macarrone de Añatuya, Santiago del Estero; Father Pared who, convicted of corruption of minors, died of AIDS while in prison; and, of course, the infamous case of Father Grassi, about whom we wrote in a previous article, and who remains a free man even after being sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption of minors, first-degree sexual abuse and coercion.
Remarkably different from the attitude of the Church of Argentina, who relocates and even defends the guilty priests, is the stance of Pope Benedict XVI on the subject of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, who, on a recent trip to the United States, said: “I have difficulty comprehending how it’s even possible that our priests have betrayed their mission in such a way…”; “…I am profoundly ashamed and we will do everything possible to keep this from happening again…”
In Australia, the Pope reiterated his “shame” and asked that the guilty “be brought to justice.”
Well, it’s equally difficulty to comprehend that the Church of Argentina has not followed the Pope’s lead, bearing in mind that – according to statistics from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The United States – a total of 4,392 priests were accused of pedophilia, around 14,000 children and adolescents were sexually abused in the last 40 years, and the cost to the Church has exceeded 2 billion dollars in legal compensation.
As we finish this missive, it has come to our attention through the media yet another charge of abuse and corruption of minors committed by a priest. This time, the incidents were committed between 1984 and 1992, by Father Justo Ilarroz at Menor de Paraná Seminary. As is customary, the Church of Argentina did not report him [in order that he could be given] his lawful punishment, in spite of knowing full well the details of the case. The alleged victims were nearly 50 children.
It’s high time that the Church of Argentina act accordingly and follow in the footsteps of Pope Benedict XVI.
What are they waiting for?