“Catholic priest charged in sex-for-visas migrant scandal” & related articles

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euronews.com

26/06 18:53 CET

A Catholic priest in Sicily has been charged with seeking sexual favors from migrants fleeing the Middle East and Africa in exchange for help with residency visas.

“The sexual crimes relate to a number of subjects, both underage and adults, all non-EU citizens with whom the priest was in contact through his position within Caritas,” prosecutor Marcello Viola told reporters.

“He forced young people through sexual favors, through pressure, using his senior role,” Viola added.

60,000 migrants have been rescued at sea by Italy in the first half of this year, most people fleeing conflict zones such as Syria.

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Italian priest charged with soliciting sexual favors from refugees

Accusations date back to 2009

UCAnews.com

June 26, 2014

Josephine McKenna, RNS Italy

The Catholic Church in Italy is facing an embarrassing scandal after the arrest of a priest accused of demanding sexual favors from immigrants seeking political asylum in Sicily.

The Rev. Sergio Librizzi, who was also the director of the Catholic charity Caritas in the Sicilian city of Trapani, was arrested at his parish on Tuesday as he was preparing for Mass.

Prosecutors charge that Librizzi sought sexual favors from newly arrived migrants fleeing the Middle East and Africa in exchange for help with residency visas, as well as from the poor who sought help from the charity.

The priest’s arrest is particularly embarrassing for the church given Pope Francis’ strong stand in support of the immigrants flooding the area. Soon after his election last year, Francis’ first pastoral visit outside Rome was to the island of Lampedusa, near Sicily, where he called for greater solidarity and an end to the “global indifference” over refugees.

There has been a surge in refugees fleeing conflict and poverty in Syria, Iraq and other countries. Last month, the Italian government said the number of refugees and other migrants reaching its shores had risen to more than 39,000 in the first half of 2014.

After Librizzi’s arrest, Bishop Pietro Maria Fragnelli suspended Librizzi and expressed his “shock and dismay” at the priest’s alleged wrongdoing.

“We express our firm condemnation of serious and reprehensible behavior, unacceptable not only because it may be a crime but because it offends the dignity of human beings and seriously damages the dignity of priestly service,” Fragnelli said in a statement.

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ROME (RNS) The Catholic Church in Italy is facing an embarrassing scandal after the arrest of a priest accused of demanding sexual favors from immigrants seeking political asylum in Sicily.

Police arrested Sergio Librizzi for allegedly abusing refugees under his care.

The Rev. Sergio Librizzi, who was also the director of the Catholic charity Caritas in the Sicilian city of Trapani, was arrested at his parish on Tuesday (June 24) as he was preparing for Mass.

Prosecutors charge that Librizzi sought sexual favors from newly arrived migrants fleeing the Middle East and Africa in exchange for help with residency visas, as well as from the poor who sought help from the charity.

The priest’s arrest is particularly embarrassing for the church given Pope Francis’ strong stand in support of the immigrants flooding the area. Soon after his election last year, Francis’ first pastoral visit outside Rome was to the island of Lampedusa, near Sicily, where he called for greater solidarity and an end to the “global indifference” over refugees.

There has been a surge in refugees fleeing conflict and poverty in Syria, Iraq and other countries. Last month, the Italian government said the number of refugees and other migrants reaching its shores had risen to more than 39,000 in the first half of 2014.

Pietro Maria Fragnelli is the bishop of Trapani.

After Librizzi’s arrest, Bishop Pietro Maria Fragnelli suspended Librizzi and expressed his “shock and dismay” at the priest’s alleged wrongdoing.

“We express our firm condemnation of serious and reprehensible behavior, unacceptable not only because it may be a crime but because it offends the dignity of human beings and seriously damages the dignity of priestly service,” Fragnelli said in a statement.

“We also express our sympathy and Christian solidarity for the victims of such behavior: We know that the Christian community is with them and pray that God will soothe their wounds.”

Librizzi is accused of at least 10 episodes of sexual violence against immigrants since 2009, and he also faces charges of embezzlement after the alleged discovery of 10,000 euros ($13,600 ) inside his church. Investigators say they plan to rely on witnesses and wiretaps in their case against him.

“The sexual crimes relate to a number of subjects, both underage and adults, all non-EU citizens with whom the priest was in contact through his position within Caritas,” prosecutor Marcello Viola told the media. “He forced young people through sexual favors, through pressure, using his senior role.”

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Trapani priest heading charity arrested on sex abuse charges

Investigators allege migrants as well as disadvantaged attacked

ansa.it/english

24 June 2014

 (foto: ANSA)

(ANSA) – Trapani, June 24 – A priest who heads a parish charity in the city of Trapani on Sicily’s west coast was arrested Tuesday on allegations of sexual abuse, possibly including migrants newly arrived in Italy.

Police arrested Sergio Librizzi at his home in the rectory of the parish of San Pietro in Trapani, and searched the residence as well as seizing computers.

    Librizzi has been involved in settling migrants, who have landed in Sicily and other parts of southern Italy on rickety boats after fleeing north Africa and the Middle East.

    The indictment alleged that Librizzi sought sexual favours from some of these migrant males seeking status as political refugees, as well as from disadvantaged people seeking help from the church charity. He also faces allegations of bribery and fraud in handling charitable funds.

    At least eight victims were likely involved in the incidents that reportedly began in 2009 and continued until this week, prosecutors said.

    Investigators said they bugged an automobile where the alleged sexual abuses occurred to gather evidence.

    Prosecutor Paolo Di Sciuva said that the priest was “highly influential”.

    In a statement, the office of the bishop of Trapani said that he is waiting for the judicial process to take its course, expressing “sorrow and bitterness” over the case.

    “We ask the ecclesial community to intensify their prayers, conscious of the words of the Gospel that only the truth makes us free,” said the statement.

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