Gozo Church confirms pedophile priest was dismissed by Vatican

Following MaltaToday's probe Church is to publish names of priests who are either defrocked or under permanent restrictions on pastoral duties

Gozo bishop Mario Grech
Gozo bishop Mario Grech

The Gozo Church today said that pedophile priest Dominic Camilleri was in fact dismissed by the Vatican after MaltaToday revealed that the Gozo bishop had failed to execute the Holy See’s order.

On Sunday, MaltaToday reported that Camilleri had been defrocked by the Vatican in 2013 but Gozo bishop Mario Grech had not yet dismissed him.

In a brief statement sent to this newspaper, the Gozo curia confirmed that Camilleri had been dismissed by the Vatican, however it did not state when the papal decree was issued.

“Camilleri was personally notified of the decision in  March of this year and his lawyer was also informed of the decision in May,” the Gozo curia said.

Meanwhile, bishops Charles Scicluna and Mario Grech today said that priests who are either dismissed or under restrictive orders will be named publicly.

In a joint statement, the two bishops said that “with immediate effect all definitive decisions imposing restrictions on clerical activities or dismissal from the clergy, will be made public on the dioceses webpages.”

The Gozo curia’s reaction come a week after MaltaToday asked a series of questions on Camilleri’s position. In an initial reaction, the Gozo church said it was “unable to comment on individual cases for confidentiality reasons.”

Earlier this week, Grech told MaltaToday that he would rather not answer questions 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.”

Camilleri, was investigated by the Maltese church over the sexual abuse of minors in 2003 and although the 63-year-old had been banned from practicing his clerical duties in public in 2005, this newspaper is informed that Camilleri was still saying mass in a private chapel.   

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.

MaltaToday is informed that in March 2013, the Vatican had upheld its original decision to defrock Camilleri but the Gozo bishop did not execute the shamed priest’s dismissal.

Informed sources said Grech’s dithering could be connected to the priest’s alleged threats to expose other cases of sexual abuse involving Gozitan priests.

MaltaToday is also informed that Grech’s hesitation to dismiss Camilleri led to an internal revolt within the Gozo curia, with a number of priests raising their concerns with Pope Francis and high ranking figures at the Holy See.