Child abuse expert welcomes Vatican investigation into paedophile priests

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Child abuse expert welcomes Vatican investigation into paedophile priests

11th May 2012

An expert in handling cases on behalf of abuse victims has welcomed news that The Vatican is investigating seven priests for the alleged sexual abuse of minors.

Mark Hatzer, a partner and joint head of the Victims of Abuse department at Fentons Solicitors LLP was speaking following an announcement by The Vatican that it was taking action against seven members of the orthodox religious order known as the Legion of Christ.

“Although I of course welcome the fact that this investigation has been instigated by The Vatican,” said Mark, “I very much hope it will lead to the Church admitting that these appalling crimes were committed by members of this order as well as apologising to the victims involved.”

The investigation is the first time The Vatican has openly taken action against the troubled order following the scandal of the Legion’s late founder, who was found to have raped and molested his seminarians over a number of years dating back to the 1950s.

The Legion, which is now under Vatican receivership, has insisted that the crimes of its founder, the Reverend Marciel Maciel, who was long heralded as a model priest by the Church before his disgrace and subsequent death in 2008, were his alone.

“It is deeply shocking that The Vatican investigation of other Legion priests who are alleged to have committed similar crimes against children to that of the order’s founder, over several decades, indicates the same culture of secrecy that allowed Maciel to abuse his victims has been prevalent for many years,” said Mark.

The scandal of Maciel and his orthodox order, which has about 900 priests around the world and has been praised for attracting both money and vocations to the priesthood, ranks as one of the worst of the 20th-century Catholic Church. The Vatican took over the Legion in 2010 and is said to be pushing through a process of reform.

“Like any allegations of abuse, these accusations must be taken extremely seriously,” said Mark. “The Church needs to show total commitment to examining these claims, bringing anyone found guilty to justice and reaching out and apologising to victims.  

“We as a society, and in particular the Catholic Church, have a responsibility to protect the young and innocent from this type of awful abuse and we must do everything and more to doggedly pursue and convict those who allow children to suffer in this way.”

How can Fentons help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to victims of sexual and physical abuse.

If you would like to talk to one of our experts in confidence, then please contact us on 0161 684 6643 or 0161 238 6440.

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