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Italians want bishop removed for concealing priest’s laicisation
18 February 2014 13:46 by Robert Mickens

Italian groups supporting victims of sexual abuse by priests have called for the resignation of Bishop Diego Coletti of the northern diocese of Como after it was discovered that he tried to keep quiet Pope Francis’ laicisation late last year of an abusive priest.

Bishop Coletti, 72, claimed he was acting under the Pope’s instructions, but the families of those abused by the former priest – Marco Mangiacasale – said it was the bishop’s decision to keep the news secret, not the Pope’s.

“Coletti was the one who imposed the obligation of privacy … and now he’s looking for excuses to drag Pope Francis into this,” the families charged.

The Diocese of Como confirmed on 12 February that the Pope had dismissed Mangiacasale, 50, from the clerical state on 11 December, just 11 weeks after the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) concluded a canonical trial against the former priest. A diocesan tribunal sent the case to the CDF after concluding the initial canonical trial on 23 September.

Italian civil authorities had sentenced him to three-and-a-half years of reclusion (first in prison, and currently under house arrest) in spring 2012.

Italy has seen relatively few allegations of abuse by priests, but the Vatican’s former prosecutor on abuse, Mgr Charles Scicluna, has expressed concerns about a “culture of silence” there.