The Conventual Franciscans Order in Rome asked Pope Francis to dismiss Donald Bellizzi – the Maltese priest convicted of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy, Times of Malta reported.
Bellizzi can only be deprived of his ecclesiastical status on order of the Rome-based Order, and not by any Maltese church authorities, including Malta’s Archbishop.
This is because he forms part of a specific religious order and is not the responsibility of any local diocese.
Bellizzi was sentenced to three years imprisonment for sexually abusing a minor. His offences began back in 2010.
The priest would invite young aspiring priests to retreats at the Franciscan convent in Burmarrad. During one of these retreats, Bellizzi forced a 13-year-old to masturbate him. The abuse lased until the boy was 16-years-old.
“The General Curia is now presenting a request to the Holy Father to dismiss Friar Donald from the clerical state and from the religious order, in accordance with the regulations in force,” Secretary General of the Conventual Franciscans Tomasz Szymczak told Times of Malta.