By Marco Tosatti
The charges against Father Stefano Manelli, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have been dropped. After about a year of investigations, the Deputy State Prosecutor at the Court of Avellino, Doctor A. Del Bene, has asked for the closing of the proceedings against the religious, whose Order is still under commissioning without a valid reason having ever been given by the Congregation for Religious.
Father Stefano Manelli had recently been the subject of a particularly virulent press campaign – which seems in reality to have been promoted and inspired by someone within his own religious order – with wild allegations, scandalmongering statements of ex-sisters, and even the suspicion of murder. The saga of the Franciscans of the Immaculate has left nothing untouched, and there have been those in the mass media who have followed the flood of biased allegations with perhaps too much enthusiasm and without much critical evaluation.
Now that the legal authorities – with the motion to dismiss the case – bring justice to this campaign, which could be considered defamatory, it emerges that the founder of the Institute of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate was unjustly accused of having harmed the physical and moral integrity of the Sisters at the convent of Frigento, carrying out acts of sexual violence and abuse against them.
Those close to him commented that "the outcome of the investigation has brought clarity to the “assumed allegations” restoring justice and dignity to Father Stefano Manelli who for some time has been the subject of slanderous, defamatory attacks, amplified by the media outlets."
And now that the legal authorities have made their ruling, and it seems that Father Manelli hasn’t raped, abused or killed anyone, the question returns, to pose to the Congregation for Religious, to its prefect, and to its secretary: what has Father Manelli done; and what have the Franciscans of the Immaculate done to be treated with such harshness?
History, in its irony, would have it that the news of the dismissal of this investigation would come precisely at the end of the year of Mercy ...
Read original Italian article here.