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Pope Francis’s defense of bishop who admitted abuse cover-ups garners increased scrutiny

March 13, 2024

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CWN Editor's Note: “The clergy sexual abuse scandal is slowly gathering steam in Italy with increasing media coverage, criminal convictions and the launch [on March 11] of an investigative podcast dedicated to a case that tangentially involved Pope Francis,” the Associated Press reported.

In November 2023, Pope Francis said during an audience, “I greet Bishop Rosario Gisana of Piazza Armerina: he is good, this bishop, good. He was persecuted, slandered, yet he stood firm, always, just, a just man. Therefore, that day I went to Palermo [in 2018], I wanted to stop first at Piazza Armerina, to greet him; he is a good bishop.”

The Pontiff made his remarks after the release of audio recordings in which Bishop Rosano defended a priest on trial for child pornography and sexual abuse. Indeed, in 2021, Italian media—in Rome as well as in Sicily—reported on a recording in which Bishop Gisana told the priest, “I covered up this story.”

Bishop Gisana “was recorded admitting to having covered up for the priest, the Rev. Giuseppe Rugolo,” the Associated Press noted. “He was recorded saying he had covered up for another priest who did far worse and describing Rugolo’s actions as mere ‘stupidities’ of a young man.”

Father Rugolo has now been convicted of sexual violence, as well as attempted sexual violence against three minors, and has been sentenced to over four years in prison. Bishop Gisana’s diocese has also been held liable for damages.

The above note supplements, highlights, or corrects details in the original source (link above). About CWN news coverage.


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