"Only independent investigations (elsewhere) have overcome the Church's resistance to recognise its own institutional failure," said anti-abuse advocate Ludovica Eugenio. Pope Francis has expressed shame at the Church's inability to deal with sexual abuse cases and said it must make itself a "safe home for everyone".

Catholic groups on Tuesday accused Italy’s Church of an “institutional failure” to confront clergy sexual abuse, and demanded an independent national inquiry mirroring ones conducted in France and Germany, Reuters reports.

A collective of nine groups – seven headed by women – issued the demand during the launch of a campaign called “Beyond the Great Silence” and a hashtag, #ItalyChurchToo, inspired by the international #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

In an online news conference, Paola Lazzarini, head of Women in the Church, called for the opening of the archives of “all dioceses, convents and monasteries”, damages for victims and the uncovering of the truth, “however painful”.

Globally, revelations of sexual abuse by clergy have so far cost the Church hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.

The Italian campaign aims to increase public pressure on the Church and the government for a national inquiry going back decades, and rejects assertions from some Italian Catholic leaders that the Church has the resources to do the work itself.

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