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Abuse victim sues Vatican in bid to identify predators

A US man who says he was raped by a priest as a child announced Thursday he was suing the Vatican seeking the identification of accused clergy members worldwide.

Abuse victim sues Vatican in bid to identify predators
Manuel Vega (left) listens as attorney Jeff Anderson (right) announces the filing of a federal lawsuit to uncover alleged sex abuser priests in the Church on October 4, 2018. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP

Over recent months, the Catholic Church has been gripped by a global sexual abuse scandal – particularly in Australia, Chile and the US — with allegations that cases were covered up by top church officials”

“I'm seeking the truth – that's what this is all about,” 52-year-old Manuel Vega, who said he suffered five years of abuse by southern California parish priest Fidencio Silva-Flores when he was a choir boy, told a press conference in Los Angeles.

“You have to get the images in your head what these priests did to us. And the Catholic Church has done nothing… the inaction continues to damage children,” he added.

Vega was one of around 500 victims of sexual abuse or rape who in 2007 agreed with the archdiocese of Los Angeles, the biggest in the US, to a landmark $660 million settlement.

READ ALSO: Vatican arrests ex-diplomat in child sex abuse probe

In 2013, the archdiocese published the names of the 120 clergy members involved. Among them was Silva-Flores, who was accused of abusing at least 28 minors, according to Vega's lawyers.

The priest was allowed to return to his native Mexico just after the first allegations were made, they claim. It is not known whether he remains a priest or if he has contact with children.

Vega's suit, filed in a Los Angeles federal court, aims to force the Vatican to reveal the identities of all priests accused of abusing children, alleged related files and details of clergy members who helped cover up the acts, explained his lawyer, Jeff Anderson.

“In 35 years of working with survivors and bringing actions against top officials in America, one thing is clear,'' Anderson said. 

“The problem is at the top and until the problem is addressed at the top, it will continue. We applaud this courageous survivor and all the survivors who have shared their truth to help protect kids.”

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TRAVEL

What does the US’s new risk classification for Italy mean for American travellers?

The US State Department has changed its advice on travel to Italy as well as dozens of other countries with improving Covid infection rates. What does this mean for Americans who want to come to Italy?

What does the US's new risk classification for Italy mean for American travellers?
Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

The US has downgraded Italy from its “do not travel” list (level 4) to “reconsider travel” (level 3). 

The decision by the US State Department and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention means that Ital yis no longer in the highest risk classification for travel. 

However, according to the State Department’s advice for level 3 “reconsider travel”, “US nationals should avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security”. 

“Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to Italy. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Italy,” reads the CDC website.

However, Italy’s entry rules for Americans remain unchanged since May 16th.

As the US remains on Italy’s travel ‘D list’, entry is allowed for any reason but all arrivals from the US are subject to a mandatory 10-day quarantine period unless on a special Covid-tested flight.

People arriving on other flights, including those who must travel for essential reasons, must provide negative test results as well as facing the quarantine requirement on arrival, under rules which are currently set to stay in force until at least July 30th. (However, it’s possible that they may be dropped earlier – or extended beyond that date.)

READ ALSO:

There is currently no exemption to the Italian travel restrictions for people who have been vaccinated.

However, Italy’s government said on Wednesday that its long-awaited travel ‘green pass’ or health certificate would be ready for use in the coming days.

The pass will be available to anyone who has either been vaccinated, has tested negative for coronavirus within the past 48 hours, or has recently contracted and recovered from Covid-19.

Authorities did not clarify whether the pass would be made available to non-EU citizens immediately. Find more details here.

Other countries that are no longer classified as “do not travel” by the US are France, Spain, Japan, Greece, Switzerland, Canada and Mexico. You can find out other countries’ classifications here

The CDC said it had also updated the criteria it uses to determine these risk levels “to better differentiate countries with severe outbreak situations from countries with sustained, but controlled, Covid-19 spread”.

The US State Department uses the CDC’s recommendations to set its own travel advice but also considers other factors such as Covid restrictions and terrorism in other countries.

All returning US citizens require a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding their plane back, the CDC added.

Stay up to date with Italy’s travel rules by following The Local’s travel section and checking the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

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