Like the Franciscan Bruce Ritter, Gelmini founded homes for the outcast and was accused of abusing young men. They also both managed to escape supervision. Ritter was a Franciscan, but the Franciscan assumed the Archdiocese of New York was keeping an eye on him, and the Archdiocese assumed the Franciscans were supervising him.
Gelmini said something odd which the the English language news reports garbled (no surprise).
He said, according La Republica,
“La decisione di ridurmi allo stato laico è stata solo mia. Io non appartengo alla diocesi di Terni: il vescovo di Terni, monsignor Paglia, che non ha alcuna giurisdizione su di me, per me è zero. Io appartengo alla chiesa cattolica melchita. Il mio superiore è il patriarca Gregorio III. Per me Paglia è solo il portalettere del Vaticano.
“The decision to reduce me to the lay state was mine alone. I do not belong to the diocese of Treni. The bishop of Terni, monsignor Paglia, does not have any jurisdiction ever me, for me he is nothing. I belong to the Melchite Catholic Church. My superior is the patriarch Gregory III. For me Paglia is simply the postman of the Vatican.
During the 1980s, when his community Incontro was growing rapidly, Gelmini had himself excardinated from the diocese of Grosetto and became a “mitered exarch” of the Melchite Catholic Church.
Therefore, nobody was keeping an eye on Gelmini. According to La Stampa, “Pressioni dal Vaticano su Don Gelmini” (9-17-07)
La conclusione dell’istruttoria operata in Vaticano, insomma, è che di fatto non c’è in Italia un vescovo o un parroco che sovrintenda a don Pierino. Ed è così da molti anni.
The conclusion of the Vatican inquiry, in sum, is that in fact there is not in Italy a bishop or pastor who supervises don Peirino, And has not been for many years.
I have not been able to find any explanation of why Gelmini became a Melchite; but the effect was that he had no one above him and acted completely independently.