By Anne Kurian-Montabone

The first hearing of the trial of two Italian priests accused by the Vatican Court — one for sexual abuse and the other for complicity — took place on October 14, 2020. The next hearing is scheduled for October 17 at 2:00 pm.

The hearing, which opened shortly after 9:30 am, was held in the presence of the accused and their lawyers, with the usual sanitary measures from now on: distancing, masks, taking of temperature . . . It lasted less than ten minutes and consisted primarily in the reading of charges.

It was the Promoter of Justice (Procurator) of the Vatican City State Court who, in September of 2019, requested the indictment of Father Gabriele Martinelli for sexual abuses, which took place in the small Saint Pius X Seminary between 2007 and 2012, and of Father Enrico Radice, then Rector of the small Seminary, accused of complicity.

Father Martinelli — a minor at the time of the events — is accused of violence and abuse of authority against another youth — also a minor — whom he constrained to have sexual relations. In several letters — including a counterfeit –, Father Martinelli covered up these abuses contradicting the victim’s deposition in 2013, before denying in 2018 being aware of the accusations.

Father Gabriele Martinelli is being defended by lawyer Rita Claudia Baffioni, and Father Enrico Radice by Agnese Camilli Carissimi.

Between fifteen and twenty young boys, of an average age of 11 to 18 years, frequent this small Seminary every year, founded within the Vatican. Nicknamed the “little clerics of the Pope,” they discern their vocation in the shadow of the cupola of Saint Peter’s, where they are charged every day with serving Prelates’ Mass. The institution was established by Pius XII in 1956 and entrusted to the diocese of Como, whose Bishop, Monsignor Diego Attilio Coletti, received the victim’s complaint.

The investigations were opened in November of 2017, following news published in the press. Although the affair goes back to years when the law in force impeded a trial in the absence of complaint presented the year following the contested events, the indictment was made possible by a special disposition of Pope Francis on July 29, 2019, which removed the cause of inadmissibility.

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