One of the striking features of the stories of clerical abuse that have been emerging around the world, is how in one country after another, early isolated reports are followed by first a few more, and then by a flood. It is well victims of abuse do not easily go public with their stories, but once the first person does so, others become encouraged to do so too - and the more cases that become known, the more encouragement the victims feel, to make themselves known to support groups and lawyers. It is on this basis that a spokesman for an Italian support group argues that the emergence of some stories in
Italy will surely emerge soon.
He is right. In exactly the same way, the emergence of stories in the US and Ireland also prompted a new set from Germany and Austria, followed by a string of other countries. There will still be more reports from still more countries, as well as a continuing rise in the numbers reported in each of those countries.
After the latest allegations - that Pope Benedict XVI took no action in the United States when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's enforcer - the church is now "terrified" as more victims stand up to be counted in Italy, according to Mr Roberto Mirabile, head of La Caramella Buona, an Italian anti-abuse group.
"With the scandals erupting abroad, we will see a huge growth in victims' groups in Italy in coming weeks," said Mr Mirabile on Saturday. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the Pontiff, handled abuse cases at the Vatican for 24 years.
"We are likely to discover that the Vatican worked even harder in Italy with bishops than elsewhere to hide cases, simply because the contact was closer and the church is so powerful in Italy," Mr Mirabile added.
Italian lawyer Sergio Cavaliere, who has documented 130 cases of clerical paedophilia, believes that the Vatican's backyard could follow Ireland, the United States and Germany in producing a wave of abuse revelations.
"The cases I have found are just the tip of the iceberg given the reluctance of many victims to come forward until now," said Mr Cavaliere. "And in no case did the local bishop alert police to the abuse."
Another startling development is how recent most of the allegations are, unlike the decades-old cases in Munich and Milwaukee that the Pope was last week accused of failing to act on.
Monsignor Charles Scicluna, who investigates abuse accusations passed on to the Vatican, denied that abuse had reached "dramatic proportions" in Italy, but he was concerned about "a certain culture of silence" among Italy's 50,000 priests.