Pope condemns girl’s shocking death

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis called for “severe punishment” for pedophiles after new details emerged in Italy of the 2014 death of a six-year-old girl who is alleged to have been thrown from an eighth-storey balcony by her abuser.

“This is a tragedy. We should not tolerate the abuse of minors,” the Pope said, departing from prepared remarks at his weekly Sunday message and blessing to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square. “We must protect minors and severely punish abusers,” he said.

Though the Catholic Church itself has been rocked by its own abuse scandals, he did not mention them.

Italians have been shocked as details emerged in the case of six-year-old Fortuna who died in June 2014 after a fall from an eighth-storey balcony in Naples.

After reopening the case, police charged a 43-year-old man with having thrown the girl to her death in a housing block in a rough area of the city after raping her. Police said they suspected he killed her so she would not talk. The man, who has been accused of molesting other children and is now in prison in Rome, has denied the charges.

Child abuse by priests has plagued the Roman Catholic Church itself for decades.

More Stories