19:03 / 22.05.2023.

Author: Katja Miličić

Rijeka Archbishop apologizes to victims of sex abuse by priests

Mate Uzinić

Mate Uzinić

Foto: Goran Kovacic / PIXSELL

The Archbishop of Rijeka, Mate Uzinić, addressed reporters and the public on at a press conference on Monday, presenting how the Church handled reported cases of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. 

In an emotional speech, Archbishop Uzinić apologized to the victims.

"I feel deep sadness and shame because of the abuse of minors and adults. Sadly, the scope of the abuse is often much larger than what is discovered during an investigation and that is why I ask for forgiveness on my own behalf and on behalf of the Rijeka Archdiocese,” Uzinić said.

The Archbishop said nine cases of abuse had been reported to the State's Attorney's Office. Five of the cases involve victims under the age of 18.

The most egregious case relates to a priest who was accused of abusing a number of young boys while teaching theology in Rijeka in 2016. More accusations against the same man followed in 2018.

"There are 13 boys in total, ages 6 to 13. When I became Archbishop, I made an inquiry about this case with the Apostolic Nuciature. They told me the case had been archived. 

I also contacted the State's Attorney's Office in Rijeka and told them that the crime was more severe than what was listed in the original complaint to police. I do know how this case was handled after that," he said.

Some of these cases were dropped due to lack of evidence and in others the statute of limitations had expired. Many were based on anonymous complaints. The Archbishop urged victims to come forward.

"Help me stop abusers from committing any more crimes," he said, adding that he did not have the power to put anyone in jail but he could remove them from the service and prevent priests from abusing the confidence of the people entrusted to them. He also appealed to the government and the church to lift limitations on prosecuting cases of sexual abuse.

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