Featured Image: Stock photo from diocesanpriest.com
Three men working within the Maltese Catholic Church have had their positions and roles restricted after abuse allegations against them were found to be substantiated.
A Diocesan priest, a monk and a layperson were found to have engaged in abusive behaviour with a minor. Their behaviour ranged from sexual abuse to physical and emotional abuse, as well as the bullying and exploitation of a minor.
Their activities within their parishes have been restricted as a protective measure. The priest in particular has been stopped from celebrating mass
The Safeguarding Commission – an autonomous abuse watchdog within the Maltese Catholic Church – announced these findings during a presentation of its work carried out in 2017. Andrew Azzopardi, the Commission’s head, said that these three cases were found to be substantiated and, as such, were referred to the Maltese police force.
After concluding risk assessments, 10 other allegations were not proven, and three other complaints were referred to other entities. The Commission announced that it was evaluating 12 reports and complaints revolving around the abuse of minors in total.
The Commission was also looking into three other allegations
It also announced that, in regards to cases of abuse involving adults, three cases had been verified, with three others not proven, while six others were referred to other watchdogs or entities.
The Church Commission, which looks into child and adult vulnerability, was established in 2015. Although it is part of the Church’s structure ,it has autonomy to perform its work, and in the words of Andrew Azzopardi, “safeguards the interests of victims and not the interests of the Church”.
Azzopardi explained that 2,000 church personnel have undergone specialised training since the Commission was set up
The Safeguarding Commission is made up of Roberta Attard (clinical psychologist), Kevin Borg (paediatrician), Fr Antoine Farrugia sdb (social worker), Nathalie Kenely (Head of the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Malta), Rev Joseph Farrugia (clinical psychologist) and Nicole Briffa (lawyer).
More and more cases of sexual abuse by members of the clergy have been coming to light in recent months
Father Felix Cini, a Bormla-born priest who was found guilty of abusing and molesting 17 children aged between 10 and 14 by an Italian court, as well as being in possession of child porn, was found to be giving mass on special occasions in his hometown’s parish just this year.