Pope Francis has ordered the minor seminary that is located inside the Vatican and currently at the centre of a criminal sex abuse trial to move to a new location in Rome before classes begin in the autumn.
The idea of moving the seminary had been under study “for some time,” said a statement from Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office. The idea, he said, was to find a building closer to where the students go to school in Rome and where they play.
Fr Angelo Magistrelli, rector of the St Pius X Pre-Seminary and superior of the Opera Don Folci, which runs the institute, told the Vatican court on 14th April that the current enrollment is 26 boys and young men and that the number of inquiries about admissions had been increasing.
Boys as young as 12 live at the seminary, act as altar servers at liturgies in St Peter’s Basilica and study at the St Apollinare Institute, a Catholic middle and high school. The 26 current residents also include 10 students who finished high school while at the pre-seminary and continue to live there while taking college courses.
Bruni said Pope Francis communicated his decision to Fr Angelo during an audience but also thanked the priest and the Opera Don Folci “for the work accomplished in the 75 years since the institution’s founding,” and he asked that the students be allowed to continue as altar servers in the basilica.
“In the life of the activity of the St Pius X Pre-Seminary it is a new stage which undoubtedly will offer it new opportunities for growth and development, especially in the sphere of promoting vocations to sacred ministry,” Bruni said.
The Vatican statement made no mention of the trial, which began in October, in which Fr Gabriele Martinelli is accused of sexually abusing a younger student when they both were living at the pre-seminary.
The abuse was said to have occurred between 2007 and 2012. Although both were under the age of 18 when the abuse was said to have begun, the Vatican court accused the priest of continuing to abuse the younger student when Martinelli, not yet a priest, was already 20.
Photo: Pope Francis leads the ‘Regina Coeli’ from the window of his studio overlooking St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 9th May. Francis has ordered the minor seminary that is located inside the Vatican and currently at the centre of a criminal sex abuse trial to move to a new location in Rome before classes begin in the autumn. (Vatican Media, via CNS)