Vatican attacks coverage of Italy sex abuse cases
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican's top diplomat accusedthe media of "shameful and mystifying" coverage of allegationsof sexual abuse by Italian priests and suggested there might bea campaign against the Church.
Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone took aim atreporting of a probe by Turin prosecutors into clergy accusedof paying a 24-year-old man to keep quiet about past abuse.
A separate investigation involves accusations of abuse byone of Italy's best-known priests, 82-year-old Pietro Gelmini.
In comments to Vatican radio published on Tuesday, Bertonesaid he respected the work of the prosecutors but criticizedthe media for paying so much attention to unproven accusationsthat he said warped the image of the Roman Catholic Church.
Giving too much attention to such accusations was "a falseway to present the Church, as if you presented a dark fragmentof the great Sistine Chapel ... which (after restoration) hasreacquired Michelangelo's original colors," he said.
"Sometimes it seems like there is a plan (to thecoverage)."
The Italian Church has not suffered sexual abuse scandalslike those in the United States, where the Archdiocese of LosAngeles reached a record $660 million settlement last monthwith victims of sexual abuse.
However, Italian media have recently given prominence toquestions about possible abuse by clergy, and state broadcasterRAI aired in May a BBC documentary about pedophilia by priests.
Bertone criticized the focus on a prestigious Turin schoolwhere one of the accused priests worked and which countsBertone among its former pupils.
"For a week, in newspapers or on TV news, to always see theoutside of this institute is truly shameful and mystifying.It's absolutely something to condemn," he said.
La Stampa newspaper, which has led coverage of theinvestigations, defended its work.
"La Stampa has put out news that has been shown to be true,and ... given it prominence," said La Stampa director GiulioAnselmi, in comments published in Corriere della Seranewspaper.
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