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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) defended a pedophile priest just as Benedict (Joseph Ratzinger) did before him


Julio César Grassi is a priest convicted four years ago of molesting a 13-year-old boy in the late 1990s. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail. But until this week he was free. Why?  Because Pope Francis, the then cardinal Bergoglio headed up the Argentine bishops’ conference who secretly lobbied judges to allow Grassi to stay free while he appealed his conviction. Francis and his group said Grassi should go free and tried to discredit the victims.

Grassi founded Fundacion Felices los Niños (the Happy Children Foundation) in 1993, to rescue street children. The foundation cared for 6,300 children in 17 homes across Argentina from 1993 to 2002. Grassi did the opposite of caring for the children – he used the foundation to molest and rape them.

Grassi’s trial lasted for nine months, with testimony from 130 witnesses.  He was found guilty of two acts of aggravated sexual assault and corruption of minors in the case of “Gabriel.” He was acquitted of 15 other counts of abuse of two other boys.  Why was Grassi acquitted of so many counts of abuse? Right after he was found guilty in June 2009, Frances/Bergoglio approved the hiring of a leading criminal defense lawyer and legal scholar, Marcelo Sancinetti, and secretly authorized an extensive examination of Grassi’s prosecution.

Sancinetti’s report strongly stated Grassi’s innocence and denied that there was child sexual abuse. The report went to judges who had not yet given their decisions in the case.  It dismissed accusations against two of the victims and attacked the credibility of “Gabriel,” of whose abuse Grassi was convicted. The existence of this investigation and report commissioned by the bishops and Francis/Bergoglio was revealed in December 2011 by Juan Pablo Gallego, an attorney for the Committee for Oversight and Implementation of International Conventions for Children’s Rights, who had represented the victims at the trial. Gallego called the study a "scandalous instance of lobbying and exerting pressure on the Court" and accused the bishops of "further hindering a process that has outrageously granted the condemned priest a situation of almost unthinkable freedom."

Throughout the trial, Grassi said he was backed by many bishops, especially Francis/Bergoglio. Grassi said of Bergoglio that he “never let go of my hand [and] is always at my side.” Pope Francis has, for a long time, been a public supporter of the Happy Children Foundation, but he said little to defend Grassi publicly after his arrest. In a 2006 interview with Veintitres magazine, Bergoglio said that "justice will determine" Grassi's innocence, although "there is a media campaign against him, a condemnation in the media."  As usual, when the news is good, the Vatican praises the reporters. When they write something unfavorable they have a campaign against the pope

In 2010, the Criminal Appeals Court of Buenos Aires denied Grassi’s first appeal but again the local court ruled that he could remain free.  Although the prosecutor and victims’ attorneys tried to have Grassi detained, they were rejected twice in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, Grassi’s bishop Luis Eichhorn asked the court if Grassi could live a house with a swimming pool and large park, on the same block as the Happy Children headquarters, where Grassi had assaulted Gabriel. The Court granted Bishop Eichhorn's request.

Early in 2013, the Criminal Court ruled that Grassi had violated conditions of his freedom by mentioning one of his victims in a TV interview. Grassi’s lawyers again appealed and finally, (September 19, 2013), the Supreme Court of Buenos Aires rejected Grassi's appeal and ratified his 15-year sentence. On September 23, 2013, the Criminal Court ordered that Grassi immediately go to prison to begin serving his sentence. It had taken 11 years after his arrest and four years after his conviction for him to start serving his term but he is still a catholic priest. Francis hasn’t changed that.
 
According to BishopAccountability.org who documents the crisis of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church with more than 100,000 pages of church records, legal documents, and media reports it is disturbing that Francis lobbied for Grassi so recently (in 2009 and 2010).
 
Like BishopAccountability who summarized the case we are also wondering why Francis has talked publically about financial corruption in the church and the “poor and needy” but says nothing about the cover-up of clergy sex offenders by bishops and the suffering of the abused children. Like all the popes before him for 2000 years, will he continue to ignore the global issue of sexual abuse of children perpetrated by his priests and nuns?