Had Karen Liebreich not arrived in Florence as ‘a naïve 21 year old student’ to study at the European University Institute –
before the European ideal went sour – this story would be unknown.
Marooned in the crumbling local archive of
the Scolopi (literally ‘Pious Schools’) also known as the Piarists, she
stumbled across the secret papal suppression of the order in 1646. Resisting
the crafty archivist’s diversionary tactics, her quest for truth took her all
the way into the Secret Archive of Rome’s Inquisition. She discovered that
incriminating documents had been destroyed by guilty parties and that the
order’s historians had since covered up the truth. Her expose Fallen Order
is a must for any Protestant bookshelf.
The late Pope’s eulogy
In 1997 Pope John Paul II wrote to the head
of the Piarists who governs 1,500 priests in nineteen provinces particularly in
Spain, Italy, Mexico and Argentina. The Pope praised the order’s founder known
in Spanish as San Jose Calasanz or in Italian as San Giuseppe Calasanzio. The
Pope recalled how in 1948 ‘my venerable Predecessor Pius XII,’ in the Brief
Providentissimus Deus proclaimed Calasanz to be the ‘heavenly patron of all
Christian schools in the world.’
Following Calasanz’s canonisation by Pope
Clement XIII in 1767, his statue was place din the right transept of St. Peters in Rome.
Sadly, Calasanz’s schools were hotbeds of
abuse. Worse, Calasanz personally and repeatedly protected two senior priests
who led the paedophile ring in a 20 year reign of terror. This fact was known
to the Inquisition and the Roman Curia. Even the pope eventually came to know
of it, and did nothing.
Romish paedophilia scandals always follow a
certain patter, whether it be the Ferns Report in the Irish Republic, or the
Cardinal Law affair in Boston, or any other. Guilty priests continue unreported
to the police. They are quietly moved to new posts where inevitably they offend
again. Parents and families of the abused children are ignored, disbelieved,
pressurised and bribed into silence. The child victim is of no concern.
Though these things are dubbed ‘a scandal
of our age’ none of this is new. Calasanz was guilty of all of these strategies
and that on a huge scale. His pious schools teemed with poor children for
priests to prey upon.
Readers will know that the success of the
Jesuits was based on education. But in Europe the Jesuits provided only for the
nobility. Educational opportunities for poor children in Italy were few at the
dawn of the seventeenth century.
500 children within days
Calasanz had come to Rome from Spain hoping
to wheedle his way into a sinecure. Disappointed, he visited by chance a
solitary poor school across the Tiber. Even here the priest charged a fee.
Calasanz determined to create an order of teaching priests where any child with
a certificate of poverty would be accepted. He opened his first school in Rome
in 1600, and within days he had 500 poor children.
His syllabus was a winner. The children
were taught reading, writing and arithmetic, with paper, quills and ink
provided free. This opened up careers in trade, secretarial work, bank clerking
or warehouse factoring.
The Jesuits, although innovators, insisted
upon classical methods. To their horror the Piarists successfully employed new
techniques. Naturally there was a stampede of aspiring poor parents applying
for places. New pious schools opened every few months across Italy. Beating the
Jesuits at their own game, the two orders became bitter enemies.
Alas, this avalanche of demand was a
paedophile’s dream. Teenagers entered the Piarist novitiate at 15, hopefully
for five years of training, but in practice it seems that this did not
necessarily follow. Calasanz once boasted that if he had 10,000 priests he
could place them all in a month. Standards were jettisoned. Those wanting a
meal ticket, those escaping jurisdiction of civil courts, and those rejected by
other orders, were recruited and sent out barely trained. Some teachers were
A subordinate of Calasanz soon blew the
whistle on this excessive recruiting. The matter reached the pope but Calasanz
simply ignored an ensuing papal ban. As reports of flagrant child abuse
filtered through to Calasanz, his response was always the same. ‘See that this
business does not become public but is covered up …. Your Reverence must cover
up everything … from the public.’ At the dame time he urged that the parents be
pacified and the offending priest moved on. If in the south of Italy he was
moved north and vice versa. There was never any thought for the pupil victim.
Two of Calasanz’s senior priests emerged as
ringleaders, fostering likeminded subordinates, thus institutionalising the
abuse. Father Alacchi was also a sadistic man.
What did Calasanz do? Alacchi had a genius
for chatting up the rich to endow the Piarists with money and buildings, so
Calasanz promoted him to roving ‘visitor general’. When more scandal emerged
Calasanz sent him on pilgrimage until the heat died down. Then later he brought
him back in the same role, whence more allegations arose. So he was further
promoted to all powerful ‘consultor general and procurator’ thus side stepping
scandal but renewing Alacchi’s access to the young. The paedophile ring was
sustained by positively sheltering the culprits whilst negatively discrediting
Worse was the case of Stefano Cherubini
whose father and brother were both successful papal lawyers and whose family
was at once noble and very wealthy. There was only one thing that could have
made young Cherubini, for whom the world was his oyster, dash to join the
Piarists at an early age. And with the poise and arrogance of breeding he took
little care to conceal his activities. Evidence against him was all too
abundant. The Cherubini lawyers simply closed ranks, intimidated accusers, and
stole incriminating evidence. On one occasion they managed to lift a whole,
carefully compiled, incriminating dossier from right under Calasanz’s inept
nose to destroy it. Yet weak Calasanz allowed himself to be totally reliant
upon Cherubini financially and for getting preference for the order’s affairs.
So when it came to promoting Cherubini out of tricky situations the deal had to
befit his rank, and despite showers of protests from accusing priests, Calasanz
let him become his right hand man. This policy was even given Latin formality
promoveature ut amoveatur – loosely promoted to avoid scandal.
Jesuits vs Piarists
When the Jesuits turned on the heretic
astronomer Galileo, their rivals, the Piarists of Florence, who had now grown
rich, fielded several suitable fathers to befriend Galileo. This provided the
Jesuits with an opportunity to injure the Piarists, In the course of the
inquisition proceedings that followed, Calasanz was deposed, and Cherubini, by
exploiting his connections, assumed leadership of the order.
The outcry against Cherubini took undoubted
proof of his rampant abuse right into the Inquisition and thence to the Roman
curia and pope. Nevertheless Cherubini remained Superior until unbridled
scandal of every sort became open. Even then the pope’s inspector, although a
rival Jesuit, because of Cherubini’s social rank, produced a report exonerating
The order was suppressed in 1646 – but it
was suppressed for countenancing the heretical views of Galilean views, not for
their abuse. When the Piarists resurfaced, decades later, all this was buried.
Cherubini was the first to leave and having private means he was the least
hurt. Later historians simply perpetuated the cover up.
The present writer found a 1917 copy of the
widely reprinted standard history of Calasanz in an old Italian bookstore.
Urbano Tosetti’s history (see illustration) commemorated Calasanz’s 1767
canonisation. Constantly reprinted it comprises 222 pages of sheer adulation.
On page 173 is Rome’s bare faced lie concerning paedophile Cherubini, ascribing
his belated demotion from Superior to ‘administrative incompetence’ (see illustration).
Liebreich proves conclusively that
Cherubini had been caught ‘red handed’ with a pupil. Further, a July 1646
letter from another priest, whilst freely admitting a ten year knowledge of
Cherubini’s child abuse (roguery), actually goes on to expose the Cherubini
deposition due to maladministration as a lie, as something ‘invented by the
illustrious Auditors … to cover up his (Cherubini’s) roguery.’ Cherubini did
not of course go to prison but simply on to another pious school in Frascati.
There is in Tosetti, as with every Romanist
‘saint’, a large section glorifying Calasanz’s death. His heart, tongue, liver,
spleen and cranium still reside in San Pantaleo, the order’s church fronting
the Corso in Rome today. Romanists place great stress on potential ‘saints’
being incorrupt in death. To rapidly decay is a sign of questionable sanctity.
So Tosetti stresses Calasanz’s body smelt of ‘fresh roses’, a crippled arm
touching his feet was made whole and an apron torn in the crush to see him was
miraculously repaired. Al this stuff is standard hagiography cliché. But
Tosetti stresses one curious, unprintable ‘miracle’ (with a perfectly natural
explanation) which was supposed to prove Calasanz’s modesty and chastity. This
was clearly a concocted ‘miracle’ contrived by men who knew their order had a
foul secret to bury and urgently needed pious propaganda to aid them.
It will be interesting to see how Rome
rehabilitates its Calasanz’s of today when their time comes.