Bishop refuses to explain why he has not dismissed paedophile priest

Gozo bishop Mario Grech refuses to explain why he chooses to stand by ‘defrocked’ priest while Archbishop Charles Scicluna reiterates his commitment to ‘tackle’ every case of abuse

miriam jurgen
Miriam Dalli / Jurgen Balzan
2 September 2015, 7:30am
Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Bishop Mario Grech
Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Bishop Mario Grech
Gozo bishop Mario Grech refused to answer questions on his decision to stand by a priest who was defrocked by the Vatican more than two years ago.

Asked by this newspaper for his reaction, Grech retorted “do you mind if I don’t?” and when pressed to give an answer he said “all your premises are wrong”.

Asked to elaborate, Grech said “I’ll tell you some other time.”

On Sunday, MaltaToday revealed how a Gozitan priest who was defrocked by the Vatican in 2013 had not yet been notified of his dismissal by Grech.

The priest in question, 63-year-old Dominic Camilleri, was investigated by the Maltese Church over the sexual abuse of minors. He had been accused of abusing a number of boys in Gozo over a number of years. Details are hazy since the cases were never reported to the police.

Informed sources said the Gozo bishop has not executed Camilleri’s dismissal, adding that this could be connected to the shamed priest’s alleged threats to expose other cases of sexual abuse involving Gozitan priests.

Sources told MaltaToday that this has led to a number of priests in Gozo reporting the bishop’s misconduct directly to the Vatican.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Charles Scicluna yesterday reiterated his commitment that every case of abuse will be dealt with, putting at the forefront the protection of children, youths and the vulnerable.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna reiterates his commitment to ‘tackle’ every case of abuse
“I appreciate that the Gozo Bishop is committed to work hand-in-hand with the Commission on every case… this is a sign of commitment which I support,” Scicluna said, referring to the Church Commission for the Safeguarding of Children and Vulnerable Adults.

Scicluna served as the Vatican’s chief prosecutor in abuse cases up to 2012 but last week the Maltese archdiocese told MaltaToday that questions on the Gozo case should be referred to the Gozitan curia.

Malta and Gozo are distinct dioceses, each with its own administration. Since 1864, the diocese of Gozo has been led by a bishop, whilst the Maltese archdiocese is led by a metropolitan archbishop, who does not have any jurisdiction over the diocese of Gozo.

Scicluna yesterday added that every case, irrespective of how it was addressed in the past, must now be dealt with.

“This is my commitment and I am sure that it is the commitment of the Gozo Bishop as well. It is important that decisions taken by the Bishops and the Vatican not only see that justice is served but that children, youths and the vulnerable are safeguarded,” Scicluna said.

In its brief reaction, the Gozo diocese told MaltaToday that it is “unable for confidentiality reasons to comment on individual cases”.

The Gozo Church added that, in all cases of alleged abuse by pastoral functionaries on minors, the protocols set by both canon and civil law are accurately followed.

“Since its inception in February 2015, the Church Commission for the Safeguarding of Children and Vulnerable Adults has been advising the Diocese of Gozo in all safeguarding children matters,” it had added.

Grech’s dithering has raised doubts on his leadership within certain quarters of the clergy and MaltaToday is informed that a number of priests have directly called for his resignation.

miriam
Miriam Dalli graduated in communications studies from the University of M...
jurgen
Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...