Archbishop silent over accusations of abuse by clergyman

Archbishop refuses to comment on accusations that prominent clergyman abused of emotionally and psychologically vulnerable person

Archbishop Paul Cremona has refused to react to allegations that a prominent priest has abused of an emotionally and psychologically vulnerable person for sexual purposes.

Over the past few days, two police reports were filed against the same priest by two different people.  While separate, both reports tie in as they deal with the same case.

The most serious of the two police reports deals with accusations by a person who alleges that she was abused by a prominent priest for sexual purposes despite being vulnerable both emotionally and physically.

She alleges that the abuse took place over a number of months, and that it involved sexual acts which he either persuaded her to perform on him, or her performed on her.

She also alleges that the abuse began shortly after she was released from Mount Carmel after a brief stay there for treatment of psychological and emotional issues stemming from a collapsed marriage.

The person is also alleging that Archbishop Paul Cremona not only knew of the case, but also had personally intervened to persuade her to forgive the priest when she had first tried to take steps against him within Church structures, as well as the Police.

However when contacted and confronted with the allegations, the Archbishop's categorically declined to comment about the two police reports, or about the case itself.

The office would only say that "the Archbishop does not make public that which goes on between him and other persons, be they priests, as well as faithful and laypeople."

The statement went on to say "people who feel aggrieved by any actions of a priest may present their case in front of civil authorities, as well as before the Church's 'Response Team'."

The statement however failed to address questions regarding whether the Archbishop was aware or informed of the case, or whether he confirms or denies the allegations that he attempted to influence the priest's accuser to forgive him and halt proceedings.

MaltaToday is informed that police have already started summoning the people involved in the case earlier this week.

The person accusing the priest of sexual abuse has already been called in for questioning, while the priest was also called in yesterday to give his version of events.

How the case began

Both cases date back several years but Rita's* case, as explained by her in an affidavit presented alongside her police report, goes back further still.

In the affidavit, Rita recounts that she had me the priest fort he first time when she had joined a religious movement around 1991 before she had gotten married, and right away, the priest had expressed interest in her and wanted to become her spiritual director.

She recounts as well that despite being on the verge of marriage with her partner at the time - who was coincidentally the priest's own brother - she was experiencing relationship issues, and would often go to the priest for advice.

Rita however alleges that instead of advice, he the priest would often tell her that it would be better were she to not to pursue her relationship with his brother "because he would become jealous when we saw us together."

Rita also recounts that it was from that time that the priest started making advances in her regard.

"[The priest] didn't drive, and so I often dropped him off. Once he put his hand on my thigh. I had asked him what he was doing as he had shocked me, and he replied that that he was being caring," Rita alleges in her affidavit.

At the time, Rita recounts, the relationship stopped there, as some time afterwards she got married, and stopped attending the church movement.

Despite this, she said, she still maintained contact with the priest, given how she and her husband were unable to have children, and he was involved in the administration of the adoption of children from Albania.

She also recounts how, due to various marital issues, her marriage subsequently failed. She was able to obtain an annulment, but the experience left her so emotionally and psychologically traumatised that she spent some time recovering Mount Carmel for medical and psychological care.

Rita however alleges that the moment she was released from Mount Carmel, she found herself faced by a fresh new trauma, when, during a small party she held at her place to celebrate her release - to which the priest was also invited - he made renewed and more intimate sexual advances towards her.

Rita alleges that after he asked her to go up to her home's washroom that evening, he tried to kiss her, but she did not let him, given that she had just been released from hospital and was still undergoing treatment for the trauma of her broken marriage.

"You have suffered a lot and Jesus wants me to love you," was the priest's reply when she asked him to justify his actions later on that night when he phoned to ask her why she rejected him, Rita alleges.

Sexual relationship begins in earnest

From that day onwards, Rita alleges, a complex relationship began between her and priest in which they would meet regularly, and even engage in sexual activities despite how the priest was still her spiritual director.

She alleges that between January and June of 2011, the priest and her would meet once every fortnight on Saturdays in the convent where he lived, in a small room normally used for doctrine lessons.

However she says that there would be daily contact between the two, either through telephone calls, or messages.

"When I would visit him at the convent, we would spend time talking, however towards the end he would convince me to perform oral sex," Rita alleges. She says that the first time this happened, he indicated what he wanted her to do by putting his finger in her mouth and saying "... come on, please." (...u ejja, please).

"He went and stood in front of the door so that nobody would burst in on us. I went and knelt in front of him, and did what he wanted me to do," Rita alleges, and adds that from that day on, it became the routine.

She alleges also that aside from this, he would also perform certain sexual acts in her regard as well, but never intercourse.

"After all this, we would sit down once again and talk for a bit longer, and then I would leave. The priest would be always mindful of the time," Rita says in the affidavit.

"When he would ask these things of me, he would always remove the amice from around his neck," she alleges.

Rita also recounts that during those months she would often have second thoughts about what she and the priest were doing, afraid that she was committing a grave sin.

He would reassure her saying that "Jesus wants me to love you because you have suffered a lot," and he would also promise her that he would leave the clergy and have a proper relationship with her once his parents pass away, she alleges.

Rita also alleges that the priest had also pressured her to speak personally wth Archbishop Paul Cremona to persuade him to allow her to keep meeting with the priest.

"I met him around April, and I had asked the Archbishop whether I keep seeing [the priest] as my spiritual director, the Archbishop had said 'It is better not, because your emotions towards him are too great'."

However Rita alleges that after she had continued pressuring him on the issue, he relented, saying "Then I wash my hands of this."

Turning point and first police report

In her affidavit, Rita alleges that the turning point in her relationship with the priest came when, after a falling out between the two, she alleges that the priest called her doctor to say that she was chasing the priest and harassing him.

She says that a few days later when she was next schedule to meet her doctor, her had chastened her and warned her that if she kept harassing the priest, she risked being committed once again to Mount Carmel.

"I couldn't take and I simply showed the doctor my mobile phone ... he saw all he phone calls and the messages I received from [the priest] and wanted me to take immediate action," she alleges.

From that point onwards, Rita recounts that both her and her doctor spoke to various Church officials, as well as lawyers, about the case.

Among them was the third person who lodged the second police report against the priest, given how he was also involved in church structures and was in a position to assist her.

The case got to a point were Rita even lodged a previous police report, which led to the priest's questioning by the authorities, and the confiscation of his mobile phone.

Under pressure to drop police proceedings

However Rita alleges that during this time she came under considerable pressure to drop the case, to the point that even top-ranking church officials got personally involved.

"During those times I had a lot of interference. The Archbishop would call me and tell me that I had a big heart, big enough to forgive," Rita says in her affidavit.

And Rita says that this is what happened. Following a conversation with the priest, she says that by February 2012, they had started meeting regularly again, and that the priest had even persuaded her to drop proceedings against him with the Church and the Police.

In her affidavit, Rita says that it was the priest who persuaded her to drop her first police report by saying that she had given a false report, and that it was the person who had helped her who "forced me to say so."

It is in this regard that second person that has lodged a police report against the priest saying on the grounds of defamation.

Rita recounts that it was not long before the priest and her again cut off all contact, and alleges that September 2012 "it was the end of our relationship." She adds that since then, there was virtually no contact between them, save one email.

Over 21,500 have viewed this shocking list of 174 accused clerics from one pocket on this earth ---
The issue that reeks is the falsehood, the abuse of the unsuspecting, and the cover up. The heart of the problem is the fact that the Catholic Church by tradition covers up for abusive priests. Church leaders hide behind their holier than thou robes and turn their backs on the most vulnerable. Their moral decay is becoming more out in the open than ever. The hypocrisy is just too much. The Archbishop should immediately open the “secret” files held in the curia and publish an audit of abusive priests.
It takes two to Tango. With family problems of my own that have rendered me both physically and mentally vulnerable yet I have not been abused by nuns or other women.If there was a case of rape then by all means let the culprit face the music but those involved are consenting adults and those who under stress or a emotional problems should seek expert advice and not throw themselves at every Tom Dick or Harry that promises a little happiness than one gets what he deserves. Human vultures are around us and it is not just priests, if this was another man there would not have been such a fuss by the media. It looks that this matter had been going on for some time why now? Did the "poor" woman get over her "....emotionally and psychologically vulnerablity .."
The church should change,and let priest to get married if they want.
If the alleged claims of abuse are true it shows that even priests are human and are subject to commit sin. It is a pity that such things happen from those who should lead us by example and not only by preaching and instructions.
This is a clear case of coercion by the priest involved in this case and the archbishop who was also prepared to cover up the evidence to prevent it going public. The new pope should put an end to all these stories which are going on in our country. This is the reason why our churches are empty and every person who has children is scared to entrust their children to any spiritual counsellor since they may be molested.