The indictments indicate that the church is moving forward on a case reportedly covered up for years, though the Vatican did not say when a trial might begin, nor did it provide details about the accusations against the Rev. Gabriele Martinelli and the former rector, the Rev. Enrico Radice.
Critics of how the Catholic Church has handled abuse cases will be watching to see how transparent the Vatican process will be.
The allegations of abuse at St. Pius X Pre-Seminary date to 2012. They were reported first by Italian journalists in 2017 and then by the Associated Press last year.
According to the AP, teenage altar boy Kamil Jarzembowski accused an older seminarian — Martinelli — of molesting his roommate. Several bishops investigated, the AP said, and yet the victim was never interviewed and police were never called in.
Ultimately, Jarzembowski was kicked out of the seminary, while Martinelli was made a priest.
In correspondence with The Washington Post this year, Carlo Maria Viganò, a Pope Francis critic and former Vatican ambassador in Washington, highlighted the case as an example of the church hierarchy’s inadequate response to abuse allegations.
Viganò, citing “firsthand information,” said a preliminary investigation carried out by a priest was inhibited by superiors. Viganò said Jarzembowski and two other seminarians described the accusations in writing to cardinals and, in 2014, to Pope Francis.
“One of the victims was a boy, allegedly abused for five consecutive years, starting at age 13,” Viganò said.
The request for indictments comes shortly after an August article in Il Messaggero, the major Roman daily, said local prosecutors were wrapping up their own investigation into “supposed acts of abuse” at the youth seminary.
Francesco Zanardi, an Italian survivor of clergy sexual abuse and president of the Abuse Network, said his association had helped Jarzembowski file charges with the district attorney’s office in Rome.
The Vatican, in its statement, said the indictments are possible because Francis in July granted a special provision for the matter to go forward, circumventing statute-of-limitations constraints.