New Accusations From Aversa: “Abuse Suffered by a Seminarian at Age 13” – With a Commentary by Brian Mark Hennessy a Member of the Comboni Survivor Group

New Accusations From Aversa: “Abuse Suffered by a Seminarian at Age 13”

“The children Entered and left the priest’s house,” the shadow of the pedophilia on the Church of Naples
By the Editor of Preti Pedofili

“The Reverend will have to be promptly admonished” – is the conclusion of a case that is stored in the basement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where the kilometer-long shelves of the archives are housed. It refers to the case of a priest of Ponticelli.

The case was filed a year ago after three years of investigations based on documentation collated by the diocese of Naples. It comprised of reports of events of serious abuse that had taken place in the early 1990s.

The bureaucratic process was concluded by the Vatican with the simple advice to the Archbishop of Naples to forward a “warning” to the former parish priest of Ponticelli. The medical reports, the documents, and above all, the testimony of the victim, Diego Esposito, today a married man, suffering from deep depression, was apparently insufficient enough to start further canonical procedures and to punish the priest. The latter, in the interim, had been hidden by the Neapolitan curia and taken out of circulation. Now he lives as a guest in a top secret religious establishment where he continues to celebrate Mass and administers the sacraments. Was there a cover up? Unavoidable doubts emerged because the Vatican investigation was closed and filed in the basement of the former Holy Office. The decision was the adnministering of a warning and for the correction of the “inappropriate behavior” of the priest.

A second victim, GS, has chosen in the meantime to break his silence about his twenty years of shame and pain. He recounted in an interview in which it emerged that not only his abuse but also a rapacious and predatory attitude on the part of the priest towards a number of children. “I would like the Church to understand the need to punish these priests and finally make them incapable of harming other children”the Victim said. The shocking details of the circumstances of GS’s complaint had the power to break the walls of silence and gave courage to other victims of Ponticelli to come out into the open. Evidently there were several teenagers who had entered the priest’s ‘radar’ and they had been enticed by him. In the evidence of the lawyer who defends Diego Esposito and Carlo Grezio, other allegations surfaced after exposure in the Morning Inquiry News. Contacts, speaking on the base of anonymity, provided witness statements, letters and even a petition to Pope Benedict XVI. These allegations had been forwarded previously to the Vatican in 2010 by the city of Aversa.

If canonical justice does not work, even if the Pope or the Vatican does not respond to the victims, then civil justice should undertake it. “This is a case that has just arrived and I’m still reading the papers. They comprise additional medical reports and a protocol response from the Congregation of the Faith. That provides certainty that the Vatican received the package with the complaint and a copy of the letter sent in 2010 to Pope Benedict XVI. The victim in that case is now a 38-year-old man, originally from Aversa, who from 1992 to 1999 attended the archiepiscopal seminary. At the age of 13 he suffered the abuse of a religious who taught in the establishment. The Religious forced him to have relationships by enclosing the boy it in a sort of cupboard. The documents detail all the facts, circumstances and witnesses. There is little room for imagination. “The case of Ponticelli has uncovered a can of worms,” said the lawyer shaking his head in disbelief. On one of the sheets, scrolling through the reading, he identifies again the name of the bishop Lucio Lemmo, the vicar of the diocese of Naples, which keeps reappearing in the documentation.

Naturally, nobody wants to hear the word “cover-up”. However, the victim of the city of Aversa (Caserta Province in Campania) has never received any reply from the Pope at any time and it is as if his story had ended in a black hole, swallowed up and buried forever.


I read the story above for the first time today just prior to writing these comments – and it is unnerving – not just because it is yet another tale of callous and brutal abuse of young seminarians and other boys – but because of the parallels that I and friends at the UK seminary of the Italian Order, the Comboni Missionaries of Verona in Italy, experienced in the 1960’s and 70’s.

I will spare the reader the details of all the abuse, but one phrase leapt out of the text above and it was ‘inappropriate behaviour’. Those were precisely the same two words used to describe the abuse suffered by one of my fellow seminarians. In respect to my friend, who still suffers from the stress and betrayal of the abuse by an Italian priest when he had just turned the age of 14, the words ‘inappropriate behavior’ describe nightly occurrences of the priest washing the boys naked body in a supposed ‘baptismal rite’.

It progressed, over the course of time, to the boy then washing the naked body of the priest in this fantasy of a baptism. The boy would be told to close his eyes at the point at which the priest ejaculated.

It did not end there. Another Biblical fantasy enticed the naked boy to lie on the priest’s naked body in the priest’s bed and place his mouth upon the priest’s mouth – so that in another ritual – with Biblical connotations to the story of the prophet Elisha who breathed the Spirit into a boy’s mouth and raised him from the dead – so the priest would breath the Spirit into the boy.

And if that was not sufficiently bizarre to disturb the mind of any child, on the first occasion that the priest stripped naked in front of the boy, that boy was confronted with the sight of a raw scar of a cross carved into the priest’s torso by a sharp instrument.

Years later when the boy was a grown man and reported the facts of this abuse to the Superior General of the Comboni Order in Italy, he received a letter in which it was stated that the priest had been withdrawn from the Missions in Uganda and an investigation had taken place.
The Conclusion was that the priest had admitted the events and that the Order had determined that the priest was guilty of ‘inappropriate behaviour’! The intention was, at that stage that the priest would return to Uganda where he ran a parish in which he founded a school for children – which was named after him! No reports appear to have been made by the Order to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the priest is currently housed in a secret establishment in Italy.

The parallels are uncanny! This case and details of other cases were taken by hand of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, to the Vatican and delivered by him to CDF personally two years ago this very week. The document of 174 pages details 1000 crimes of child sexual abuse committed against UK child and teenage seminarians by priests of the Comboni Misisonary Order. There has been no response from the Vatican!

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