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Italian victims of priest sex abuse demand inquiry

October 11, 2011

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VATICAN CITY—Two Italians who say they were sexually abused by priests have completed a 340-mile (550-kilometer) protest march to the Vatican and demanded an independent inquiry.

The journey from Savona in northern Italy to St. Peter's Square took 19 days. Francesco Zanardi and Alberto Sala arrived in Vatican City on Tuesday, where they tried unsuccessfully to obtain an audience with the pope.

They handed over a letter demanding the Italian bishops' conference open the inquiry into priestly sex abuse and draft norms requiring pedophiles be defrocked "without exception." They want any bishop who leaves abusers in ministry to be removed.

The Vatican has given the Italians and all other bishops' conferences until May to draft norms.

Zanardi complained that the pope had never met with Italian victims of abuse yet has met with victims on trips to the U.S., Malta, Britain, Australia and most recently Germany.

The Associated Press doesn't identify people who claim they're sexual assault victims unless they come forward publicly, as Zanardi and Sala have done.

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