Speaking to Illum, the active priest who is currently incardinated with the diocese of Grosseto in Italy wholeheartedly denied all of the child molestation allegations, saying he only pleaded guilty to the charges due to “political pressures” stemming from an attack on the Archbishop of Grosseto.
“The Archbishop wanted to close the case quickly and that’s why we decided to move the case forward as we did,” he is reported as saying last week.
He also spoke about other forces that forced him to plead guilty to molesting 17 children in an Italian court.
1. He spoke about the actions that led to his indictment
It had previously been reported that he had been accused of “undue attention” towards the children, and though the children had testified back in 2004 when the charges were brought against him, they are not publicly available.
Cini has now opened up about what he did that led to the accusations from the children.
“I patted them on the shoulders… we used to dress the altar boys,” he said.
“To pat children on the shoulder or to give them attention is not abuse,” he continued.
2. And responded to the charges that he had child porn on his computer
Traces of child porn were reportedly found on his computer. However, Cini waved these accusations away as well.
Saying that the computers were returned to him in full, he questioned why the police would return his property if they had legitimately found child porn on his property.
“If they had found something I think they would have taken steps against me, mhux hekk?” he asked.
3. Fully denying the accusations, he questioned the veracity of the claims against him
“If the accusations that I abused 17 boys and girls was true they would have bought me a grave in prison. If this had really happened I wouldn’t even have the courage to step in front of God on the altar,” he said.
He then said that those who were reporting that he had abused children were not telling the truth.
4. He spent two years at a monastery known to be used to cure homosexual priests of their “tendencies”
Venturini monastery in Trento has been widely reported as a hideaway where priests with homosexual tendencies, as well as priests with a history of child abuse, are sent to recover.
Cini was sent here for two and a half years after accepting a legal plea deal known as a patteggiamento, a legal plea that ensured the the case didn’t enter a stage where the public could scrutinise the accusations and case in general.
5. Fr Cini pointed to the 3,000-strong petition by the parishioners of Molise who demanded that he stayed on as proof of his goodness
After leaving Venturini, he was sent to the parish of Molise, were Cini found a mixed crowd.
Many of the parishioners demanded he leave the town, but at least 3,000 others wanted him to stay, saying he had rejuvenated the local parish, with many new youngsters and teenagers beginning to attend mass again due to his efforts.
6. The Vatican itself gave Cini permission to give mass again
In 2008, the Vatican, who was monitoring Fr Cini’s progress after his court case, said: “We have recently examined the case… and can note with satisfaction that the priest has walked the path of enlightenment, maturity, and healing… the Vatican feels that it would be prudent that Father Felix Cini is sent to a new area”.
The Vatican also praised the village of Cercemaggiore for accepting him without prejudice – even though, just two years later in 2010, parents of the town would team up and run Fr Cini out of town after finding out about his past.
7. The Molise region’s children commissioner called for the defrocking of Fr Cini in 2010
Nunzia Lattanzio, the Molise region’s Tutore Pubblico Dei Minori, said “all men driven by evil and violence should be removed completely from ecclesiastical duties”.
“Those who hold the role of educator – for children, the elderly, the sick or the weak – is an authority that should always guide the spirit towards the choice of Good. In this specific case, this can be excluded. The dossier of this case, by contrast, points to malicious and criminal conduct on the part of the pastor,” she said of Cini.
8. And the Maltese Safeguarding Commission are currently evaluating the case of Fr Felix Cini
The head of the commission, Andrew Azzopardi, confirmed that Cini’s case was currently being evaluated.
After the case had been evaluated, the commission will give recommendations about Cini, that range from reducing Cini’s ecclesiastical duties to having him fully removed from his parish.
9. Nevertheless, he remains adamant that he did not abuse any children
Saying he didn’t fight the accusations because of his loyalty to the church, he was determined not to let the accusations stop him from showing his dedication and love to God.
“I’ve always emerged with my head held high because I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” he says.