Things That Matter

Deaf Students At A Catholic School In Argentina Are Telling Their Story Of Abuse And Neglect By Priests

Justice may soon be on the horizon for as many as 20 victims who say they were sexually abused, including cases of rape, between 2004 and 2016. Priests Nicola Corradi, 83, Horacio Corbacho, 59 and a former gardener Armando Gomez, 49, are all facing charges of sexually abusing deaf children in their care. The shocking case has sent shock waves through Argentina’s society and the Catholic church. The terrible acts occurred at the Provolo Institute in Mendoza, a Catholic school for deaf children that was founded in 1995 and in which Corradi headed until his arrest in November 2016.

People in Argentina are looking for answers and are asking how this horrendous crime could have happened?

Credit: @revistasemana / Twitter

The two priests and gardener appeared in court Monday to face their long-awaited charges of sexual abuse. The three men face prison sentences of up to 20 years in some cases, up to 50 years in others. The trial, which is expected to last two months, will hear testimony from 13 victims who suffered negligence and abuse between the ages of four and 17, relating to 43 offenses.

News of the abuse at the school broke at the end of 2016 and created a huge scandal. The scandal grew when it became clear that Rev. Corradi was behind the charges. It has been reported that Corradi was accused of similar allegations at the Antonio Próvolo institute in Verona, Italy. Pope Francis, an Argentine, has since been notified that Corradi was behind both allegations but has yet to comment publicly despite on the matter despite his close affiliation. 

There has already been one sentencing in wake of the scandal. Jorge Bordón, an institute employee, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year on charges of rape, sexual touching, and corrupting minors.

One of the victims has spoken up about his emotions going into the trial and his search for justice. 

Credit: @news1130 / Twitter

Ezequiel Villalonga,18, is one of the victims of the pedophile priests, says that he was preyed upon at the school as a minor. Villalonga is deaf which makes the case even more heartbreaking. Now, he’s getting the chance to tell his story as the trial goes to court.

“I think that everything in the Church is fake. Everything they made us read, recite, the way (they said) people should live,” Villalonga told the AP in sign language right before the start of the priests’ trial on Monday. “I think they lie and that they’re demonic.”

Villalonga was sent to the school when he was 4 years old after his mother found out her son was deaf when he was only seven months old. For many of those years at Provo, he was only allowed to go home on weekends and spent the majority of his days there inside a massive building with little to no contact. Despite the school’s specialized mission in helping deaf children, he didn’t teach him how to speak during his time there. It was until he was an adult he learned sign language. 

“Life there was terrible. We didn’t learn anything, we couldn’t speak to each other because we didn’t know sign language,” he said. “We would write without knowing what it said, and when we asked other classmates, no one understood anything.”

Things haven’t been easier for his mom, Natalia, who says her family has had to pause their lives due to the case and the horrors that have happened to her son. 

“I am super-nervous, anxious and I hope for justice; that this ends soon so my son can move on to a new stage because this is very hard,” said Natalia Villalonga told the Washington Post.

While the trial is just getting started, the trauma and disbelief for many of the young victims have gone on for too long.

Credit: @Crux / Twitter

Paola Gonzalez’s daughter, Milagros, who is now 16 years old, had been one of those 20 abused while attending the Institute. Gonzalez was shocked and angry when she found out what had happened to her daughter at what she considered at one point, a prestigious institution. 

“You should have seen her little body when she went into (the Provolo). She was so small,” Gonzalez told the AP. “I don’t understand, I can’t imagine such evil. How could they do so much harm to such a fragile creature?” 

READ: A Brazilian Gang Leader Thought He Could Use A ‘Scooby-Doo’ Tactic To Escape Prison

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These Nuns Have Become TikTok Sensations Because of Their Hilarious Videos

comedy

These Nuns Have Become TikTok Sensations Because of Their Hilarious Videos

Screenshot via daughtersofstpaul/TikTok

When you normally think of a Catholic nun, images probably come to mind of a stern and serious older woman who is quick to scold. But this group of nuns on TikTok go against every one of those stereotypes.

The Daughters of Saint Paul has recently become a TikTok sensation because of their hilarious and playful viral videos.

The Boston-based convent has racked up almost 56k followers from just a handful of videos that they’ve posted to the popular social media platform. The sisters have only posted three videos, but they’ve already gotten over 965.k likes and 6 million views.

The sisters have posted videos of themselves dressed up as ghosts while wandering around the convent grounds, what they’ve dubbed the “Holy Ghost photo shoot”.

@daughtersofstpaul

When temptation strikes. ⚡️ #IsThisAvailable #Catholic #MediaNuns @srbethanyfsp @pursuedbytruth

♬ original sound – Lubalin

There is another surprisingly funny video of themselves recreating the internal struggle of resisting Satan. The video is captioned “Thinking about giving into temptation” and set to the TikTok favorite song “Is This Available”. More than anything, its the committed performances of the two nuns that elevate the video to hilarious levels.

And of course, the Daughters of Saint Paul also posted the “This or That challenge” set to the ’80s Run DMC classic “It’s Tricky”. In this one, a group of the nuns split off into different groups based on what they prefer. The categories are super specific: “Morning prayer” is pitted against “Evening prayer” and “rosary” is pitted against “divine mercy chaplet.”

The sisters seem to have struck a chord with viewers because the videos are wholesome, lighthearted, but most of all, unexpected.

@daughtersofstpaul

When temptation strikes. ⚡️ #IsThisAvailable #Catholic #MediaNuns @srbethanyfsp @pursuedbytruth

♬ original sound – Lubalin

The joy and playfulness of the Daughters of Saint Paul have made them bonafide celebrities of the TikTok world. Their comment section abounds with praise like “This is EVERYTHING–y’all are the best,” and “This is so wholesome I love it here.”

Commenters also refer to their account as “NunTok”. There are also people asking for the nuns to pray for specific issues in their lives–like conceiving a baby or passing a test. It truly is one of the oddest corners of the internet.

The account appears to be run by Sister Bethany, a young media-savvy nun who has her own popular TikTok page.

@srbethanyfsp

I can’t stop laughing at this! (Vid was taken pre-covid) #fyp #Catholic #RareAesthetic

♬ Teach Me How To Dougie – Classics Reborn

In one informative TikTok, Sister Bethany explains why this particular convent of nuns is so present on social media, saying that they are “media nuns” and they use their talents to create content for their faith. But they also have guidelines about what they post.

“We the sisters are always asking ourselves, ‘Is this a good use of time?’ ‘Am I putting out things that are good, true, and beautiful?’,” said Sister Bethany. “And those are things we can all ask ourselves. And those are the ways we moderate our social media use.” No matter your beliefs, that’s definitely some great advice!

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Recognizing Its Diversity Issue, Argentina Is Working To Add More Transgender Workers To Its Labor Force

Things That Matter

Recognizing Its Diversity Issue, Argentina Is Working To Add More Transgender Workers To Its Labor Force

Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress via Getty Images

Argentina has long been a progressive bastion in Latin America. It was one of the first countries in the region to allow same-sex marriage and also has anti-discrimination laws in many cities. It’s also been a beacon of hope for the transgender community, with the government long allowing individuals to choose their self-perceived identity regardless of their biological sex.

However, transgender workers still face immense discrimination and that has left a reported 95% of the community without formal employment. To help try and address this issue, the nation’s leaders have instituted a program to ensure that at least 1% of the workforce is made up of trans workers. It’s an ambitious task but the government is already making progress.

Argentina launched a program to ensure better transgender representation in the workforce.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández signed a decree in September establishing a 1 percent employment quota for transgender people in the public sector. The law went into effect on January 1 and its aim is to bring more trans workers into the formal economy.

According to Argentina’s LGBTQ community, 95 percent of transgender people do not have formal employment, with many forced to work in the sex industry where they face violence.

“If all the institutions implemented the trans quota, it would change a lot for many of my colleagues. It would change the quality of their lives and they would not die at 34, or 40, which is their life expectancy today,” Angeles Rojas, who recently landed a job at a national bank, told NBC News.

There are no official figures on the size of the transgender community in Argentina, since it was not included in the last 2010 census. But LGBTQ organizations estimate there are 12,000 to 13,000 transgender adults in Argentina, which has a population topping 44 million.

Few countries in the world are stepping up to help trans workers quite like Argentina.

Argentina has long prided itself on its progressive policies. The nation was one of the first in the Americas to recognize same-sex unions and several cities have anti-discrimination laws aimed at protecting the LGBTQ community.

In 2012, Argentina adopted an unprecedented gender identity law allowing transgender people to choose their self-perceived identity regardless of their biological sex. The law also guarantees free access to sex-reassignment surgeries and hormonal treatments without prior legal or medical consent.

Worldwide, only neighboring Uruguay has a comparable quota law promoting the labor inclusion of transgender people. And a law such as this one has the potential to greatly impact the lives of transgendered Argentinians.

Despite the program, transgender people still face enormous challenges in Argentina.

A recent report by the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People published in December said “the vast majority of trans women in the region have sex work as their sole economic and subsistence livelihood.”

It goes on to say: In Latin America and the Caribbean transgender people have their right to work violated along with all their human rights, and this takes place “in a context of extreme violence.”

Despite legal protections, Argentina’s trans community remains at risk. Many of the country’s trans citizens live in the Gondolín, a building in the Buenos Aires’ Palermo neighborhood, for protection and strength in numbers.

There have been advances in Argentina. This year, Diana Zurco became the first transgender presenter of Argentine television news, Mara Gómez was authorized by the Argentine Football Association to play in the professional women’s league and soprano María Castillo de Lima was the first transgender artist to go on stage at Teatro Colón.

However, the gap between the equality established by law and the real one remains large, warned Ese Montenegro, a male transgender activist hired as an adviser to the Chamber of Deputies’ women’s and diversity commission.

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