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Priests testify at Vatican trial on sex abuse in seminary

Father Gabriele Martinelli, 28, is accused of abusing a younger student from 2007 to 2012

Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Published: June 08, 2021 04:57 AM GMT

Updated: June 08, 2021 05:23 AM GMT

Priests testify at Vatican trial on sex abuse in seminary

The Vatican courthouse hosting the trial against an Italian priest accused of sexually abusing choir boys and another priest who allegedly facilitated that abuse. (Photo: Vatican Media/AFP)

Several priests, some of whom were former students at a minor seminary located in the Vatican, testified at the ongoing trial of Father Gabriele Martinelli, who is accused of sexually abusing a younger student at the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary.

The priests -- Fathers Giuliano Zanotta, Daniele Pinton, Giampaolo Cozzi, Alessio Primante and Ambrogio Marinoni -- described Father Martinelli's influence at the minor seminary, as well as that of his mentor and former rector of St. Pius X, Msgr. Enrico Radice, and L.G., the victim who is also a former student.

The June 7 session was the 10th of the trial, which began in October. Giuseppe Pignatone, president of the Vatican City State tribunal, said the court would listen to three more witness July 15 and possibly hear arguments July 16 before the court adjourns for the summer.

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The trial will resume after the summer recess ends Sept. 20.

Msgr. Radice is also on trial and is accused of hindering the investigation into the abuse allegations. The seminary and the Opera Don Folci, the religious institution that runs the minor seminary, are accused of failing to protect the young students.

The abuse was said to have occurred between 2007 and 2012. Although both were under the age of 18 when the abuse was said to have begun, the court accused the priest of continuing to abuse the younger student when Martinelli, not yet a priest, was already 20.

We priests counted for less than nothing, certainly less than Martinelli, who imposed himself with ease

While Fathers Cozzi, Primante and Zanotta told the court they had not witnessed Father Martinelli acting inappropriately, Father Marinoni said he told Vatican prosecutor's in 2018 that he witnessed the priest leave another student's room late one night.

Father Marinoni, who worked as a teacher as well as in the minor seminary's bursar's office, said he reported the behavior to Msgr. Radice, who questioned the students who were in the room and determined that nothing unusual had occurred.

However, most of the priests testified that Msgr. Radice held Father Martinelli in high regard when he studied there. While Father Primante described the relationship as paternal, Father Marinoni said the former rector's favoritism created a "polarized situation in the seminary, all focused on his teacher's pet, Martinelli."

"We priests counted for less than nothing, certainly less than Martinelli, who imposed himself with ease. I was an educator, but only on paper; my position was not recognized by the boys," he said.

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