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Pressure groups ramp up calls for Italian church sexual abuse enquiry

by Sophie Drew

Catholic pressure groups in Italy are calling for an independent national enquiry into sexual abuse at the hands of church clergy.

They're demanding a similar form of enquiry to those being conducted in Italy and France, where the archives of "all dioceses, convents and monasteries" are carefully investigated. 

Following the investigation, they would like to see reparations paid to the victims, and a public report to be published. 

The cause has been dubbed 'Beyond the Great Silence', or '#ItalyChurchToo' - reminiscent of the #MeToo movement, which drew back the curtain on instances of sexual abuse across a number of industries.

It's believed that the Italian Catholic Church may have the highest number of church sexual abuse survivors in the world - three times that of France, where an inquiry uncovered 216,000 cases of abuse. 

The appeal was given impetus following the publication of reports in Germany, where former pope Benedict was criticised for allegedly failing to take action against priests committing sexual abuse against children. 

Hans Zollner, a German priest on Pope Francis's commission to protect minors, said he believes an Italian enquiry will open a "Pandora's box" of historical abuse. 

He has repeated calls for an 'objective' investigation, urging the nation to 'look reality in the face and not continue to deny something continuously denied.'

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