Pope Francis says he ‘never’ pardoned sex abusers. Has he forgotten Fr. Mauro Inzoli?
September 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – During his recent flight from Estonia to Rome, Pope Francis denied ever having pardoned clerical sex abusers. This was a surprising statement, given the sad case of Don Mauro Inzoli.
On September 26, after answering, and refusing to answer, reporters’ questions, Pope Francis addressed the issue of child sexual abuse during a stream-of-consciousness speech. According to an unofficial transcript in the Catholic Herald, the pontiff said:
“The Church… I take the example of Pennsylvania, watch the correlations and watch when the Church became conscious of this [abuse]. It dedicated all and recently, I have received so, so many completed convictions from the Doctrine of the Faith and I have said forward, forward, never have I signed a request for grace after a conviction. On this I do not negotiate, there is no negotiation.”
This statement, however, is contradicted by the well-documented case of Don Mauro Inzoli.
Nicknamed “Don Mercedes” for his love of flashy cars and high living, Communion and Liberation priest Mauro Inzoli was accused of molesting boys, including in the confessional. An ecclesiastical court found Inzoli guilty, and he was suspended from the priesthood in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.
However, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio and Monsignor Vito Pinto interceded for Inzoli to the newly-elected Pope Francis. Ignoring the advice of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Francis decided in 2014 to return Inzoli to the priesthood. Directed to live a life of “humility and prayer,” to take a course of psychiatric treatment, and to stay away from children, Inzoli nevertheless attended an Italian conference on the family in 2015.
According to historian Henry Sire, author of The Dictator Pope, Francis’ gesture of clemency didn’t work out well for Inzoli in the long run.
“[Francis’] leniency, however, backfired,” Sire wrote, “and after complaints from Inzoli’s home town of Cremona, police reopened the case against him.”
In 2016, an Italian civil court convicted Inzoli of sexual violence against five boys between the ages of 12 and 16. These crimes took place between 2004 and 2008. The then-66-year-old Inzoli was sentenced to four years and five months of imprisonment. Prior to the conviction, Inzoli had agreed to pay 25,000 euros as compensation to the families of his victims.
The prosecutor, Roberto di Martino, complained that the Vatican had not supplied all requested documents the court had deemed necessary. Di Martino also suggested that there may have been more than 100 “questionable incidents” in Inzoli’s conduct toward minors. The long delay in Inzoli’s civil prosecution, said Di Martino, was the embarrassment of the victims’ families, who all belonged to the Communion and Liberation movement.
After that, Inzoli went through a second ecclesiastical trial, and on May 20, 2017, Pope Francis stripped the convicted sex abuser of the priestly faculties Francis had himself restored.
In addition to the Inzoli case, Pope Francis has been implicated in neglecting the cries of victims or of promoting and protecting, rather than disciplining, bishops accused of abuse or cover-up. Most recently, there have been allegations that Pope Francis restored now ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to a position of power despite knowing of his sexual predation. Before those revelations, Pope Francis courted controversy by including in his inner circle the Belgian Cardinal Godfried Daneels, the Honduran Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, and the Chilean Cardinal Francisco Erràzuriz and for supporting Bishop Juan Barros, all of whom have been implicated in covering up clerical sexual abuse.
Recently a prominent left-wing German magazine, Der Spiegel, criticized Pope Francis for his failures in the abuse crisis.