The Community of Mount Tabor, near the Sanctuary of Divine Love outside of Rome, is one of the few places in the Italian Church where religious with psychological problems, including pedophilia, can go for help.

Driving the news

Paolo Rodari, a Vaticanist from Italian paper La Repubblica, visited the Community and spoke with permanent deacon Ermes Luparia, 69, who does what he can, with his colleagues, to attend to pedophile priests, the pariahs of the modern Church.

Luparia said the Italian bishops send the offending priests to the Community “so that we can cure them” and “to prevent them from committing more abuses”.

“We’re a therapeutic unit, for all intents and purposes”, explained the deacon, adding that the abuser religious come “when the accusations are public but the criminal proceedings against them haven’t reached a conclusion”.

The pedophile priests and religious “come to heal and to understand through a therapeutic path what led them to commit unacceptable crimes”, Luparia said, explaining that therapy sessions for the offenders are held twice a week.

The deacon made it clear that the Community therapy isn’t a replacement at all for punitive police measures, since “the police are aware of our scrupulous behaviour”.

Go deeper

All the pedophile priests come to the Community in obedience to their bishop.

Luparia and his colleagues then make an assessment of the offenders, “to find out if behind the obedience there is an awareness of the crime committed”, he explained.

“From the first answers we make a prognosis that is useful for following therapy”, the deacon affirmed.

Life in the “priestly fraternity” that is the Community is an “integral way”, said Luparia.

“Therapy and community life”, the deacon added, explaining that each of the internees in the Community is assigned special community duties, helping in the kitchen, tending to the garden, or the like.

One non-negotiable in the Community is Mass and prayer, Luparia insisted.

“A life of a certain type is necessary to heal certain wounds”, the deacon reflected, adding that if the pedophile priests don’t follow the rules and expectations of the Community, they’re sent back to their bishop.

Asked whether the priests living at the Community can come and go as they please, Luparia said: “It depends. Some yes, others no”.

If the Community authorities consider any of the priests to pose a further danger, “we have a duty, set out in the principles that regulate our work and our relationship with the bishops, to immediately inform the superior, inviting and advising him to take action”, Luparia said.

“Danger to life and the danger of scandal are like a release clause from the principles of privacy”, the deacon explained of the Community’s obligation to discretion but also to take further action against dangerous religious.

Why it matters

If as a result of the trials they face the priests are sent to prison, a member of the Community accompanies them, but Luparia said that “in most cases” at this point the offenders already have “a new awareness” of what they’ve done.

But even after therapy, and/or prison, there’s no guarantee certain priests won’t come back to the Community, Luparia lamented.

“We do our best to make sure certain behaviours are permanently left behind”, the deacon explained, but warning that the Church “only proposes this path” for pedophile priests.

One thing Luparia said he’d like to see in the Community is more bishop visitors, to control, but also to encourage to repentance, the priests confined there.

“It would be positive if they came more frequently”, the deacon said of the prelates whose presence he misses.

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