Geopolitics

Latest Priest Sex Abuse Case Hits Archdiocese Of Powerful Cardinal, Close Advisor To Pope Benedict XVI

A parish priest near Genoa is facing pedophilia and drug charges just as the Vatican lays out new guidelines for responding to sex abuse cases. Genoa’s Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, who was integral to establishing the new guidelines, has visited the local ch

Latest Priest Sex Abuse Case Hits Archdiocese Of Powerful Cardinal, Close Advisor To Pope Benedict XVI
Alessandra Pieracci and Giacomo Galeazzi

GENOA - The latest sex abuse case to rock the Catholic Church is unfolding in the archdiocese of an influential Italian Cardinal, who has been working with Pope Benedict XVI on reforms to respond to prior scandals of pedophile priests.

Father Riccardo Seppia, a 51 year-old parish priest in the village of Sastri Ponente, near Genoa, was arrested last Friday on pedophilia and drugs charges. Investigators say that in tapped mobile phone conversations Seppia asked a Moroccan drug dealer to arrange sexual encounters with young and vulnerable boys. "I do not want 16-year-old boys, but younger. Fourteen-year-olds are OK. Look for needy boys, who have family issues," he allegedly said.

Genoa Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is also head of the Italian Bishops Conference, had been working with Benedict to establish a tough new worldwide policy released this week on how bishops should handle accusations of priestly sex abuse.

Bagnasco said when he met the Pope this weekend he "asked for a particular blessing for my archdiocese," in light of the accused crimes, adding that "like every father toward a son (feels) great pain in seeing a priest who is not faithful to his vocation."

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi praised Bagnasco's handling of the Sastri Ponente case, lauding its "timeliness and competence." On Saturday, the Cardinal also visited the Santo Spirito Church where Seppia was the parish priest.

According to investigators, Seppia told a friend -- a former seminarian and barman who is currently under investigation -- that the town's malls were the best places to entice minors. In the tapped phone conversations they cursed and swore against God. The priest is charged with having attempted to kiss and touch an under-age altar boy, and of having exchanged cocaine for sexual intercourse with boys who were over 18.

Seppia's defense lawyers are expected to argue that those conversations – monitored since Oct. 20, 2010 – were just words, sex games that were played by adults. It was just a game even when he claimed to have "kissed on the mouth" a 15-year-old altar boy, according to the defense.

On Monday, during the formal questioning by Genoa"s Investigating Magistrate Annalisa Giacalone, Seppia chose not to respond. The magistrate decided to keep him in custody to avoid a risk of relapse or tampering with evidence. Defense attorney Paolo Bonanni said that they want to evaluate all the charges, reserving the right to respond to the Public Prosecutor Stefano Puppo in the coming days.

Questioned by the investigators, the altar boy has reportedly confirmed the attempted kiss. Another male minor who, according to the investigators, was stalked with messages and pressing invitations, will be questioned soon. Psychologists are helping the Carabinieri police officers obtain testimony from the alleged victims. "The boys are ashamed to talk and to admit what happened," says one of the investigators. The evidence amounts to at least 50 messages and phone calls. In the tapped phone conversations, the drug dealer contacted the boys and gave their phone numbers to the priest, who paid them with cocaine or 50 euros each time for sexual intercourse.

"The investigators made us listen to that man saying terrifying things about our children. Things so terrible that I cannot repeat them," a father of one of the boys said.

Investigators are also examining three confiscated computers. The priest allegedly looked for partners via chat as well.

Seppia is currently being kept in a confinement cell, in a Genoa prison. He met the jail's priest and psychologist. "He has read the newspapers, and he is pained by his parishioners' comments," said his lawyer. The investigation is ongoing.

Read the original article in Italian.
Photo - Ferminius

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Society

A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.


Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?


The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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