Pope Francis put aside his prepared speech for his weekly Sunday message today and called for the “severe punishment” of pedophiles. His reaction was brought about after more details surrounding the death of six-year-old Fortuna Loffredo were made public. Loffredo died near Naples in 2014 after being sexually abused by a neighbor. Authorities say that her abuser, 44-year-old Raimondo Caputo, threw her from an eighth-story balcony when the little girl resisted his latest attack in June 2014. Police believe that he raped Fortuna before killing her and murdered her to keep her from telling what happened. Caputo has a past history of imprisonment for the sexual abuse of three young girls that he had with his girlfriend, one as young as three years old.
Newsmax reports that an autopsy revealed that Loffredo had been the victim of chronic rapes, and authorities believe that Caputo was her longtime perpetrator. In addition, investigators state that they suspect that adults in the community were aware that Caputo had been raping her but chose to keep quiet about it. It was only when other child victims began to speak up that police were able to discover leads that led back to Caputo.
Fortuna’s mother, Domenica Guardato, said that she was always sure that Caputo and his girlfriend were behind the murder of her daughter, but neighbors would not come forward with what they knew. The little girl and her family lived in a crime-ridden area of the city.
Prosecutor Domenico Airoma confirmed the lack of cooperation by other adults in the community.
“The adults were hindering the investigations. The [child victims who spoke up] permitted the turnaround.”
Caputo is now back in prison, writes Newser, and his 32-year-old girlfriend is under house arrest for possibly helping him to rape one of her daughters, whom he fathered. He has been charged with sexual violence and murder. Caputo denies the allegations.
The case has been under media scrutiny for days, and on Saturday Italian President Sergio Mattarella called for an “ample, rapid, and severe” judicial proceeding to bring the case to a close.
Life in Italy reports that persons unknown threw a bottle with flammable liquid at the window of his home on last week, setting it on fire. The flames eventually died out on their own.
Pope condemns pedophilia as details of girl's death shock Italy: VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis called... https://t.co/mzEYcLVMqy— UnknownUser (@UnknownUserVC) May 1, 2016
According to Yahoo News, the Pope also delayed blessing tens of thousands of worshippers who were present in St. Peter’s Square in order to make his remarks.
“This is a tragedy. We should not tolerate the abuse of minors.
“We must protect minors and severely punish abusers.”
The Pope did not mention the scandal of sexual abuses committed by priests that has plagued the Catholic Church in the past, although he has spoken on the issue before. The most widespread exposure of the scandal occurred in 2002, when it became known that United States bishops assigned to the Boston area moved abusers from parish to parish instead of removing them from the Church and reporting them to the police. After that, more accusers from all over the world came forward to tell their stories. Subsequently, tens of millions of dollars have been paid out to, and on behalf of, abuse victims.
Victims groups say that Francis is not doing enough to stop the abuse and that he should make bishops more accountable for not preventing or reporting abuses.
The Pope had set up a commission to advise him on how to handle the issue of abuse within the Church, but it has struggled to become fully effective, so much so that Peter Saunders of Britain, an outspoken member of the commission, resigned in protest over the group’s ineffectiveness in February.
The Pope has promised “zero tolerance” for abusers in the Church.
[Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images]