Worrying Abuse Allegations in Scicluna's Backyard

There is so much to read and so much information to take in about the devastating Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report into abuse in the Catholic Church.

The harrowing 1,356-page document is the result of the office of the attorney general’s investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by priests in the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg and Scranton. Two other Pennsylvanian dioceses — Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown — were spared only because they had been previously investigated.

The numbers speak for themselves: More than 300 priests in the six dioceses sexually abused a large number of minors over the span of seven decades. The number of victims is estimated at 1,000 at least, but it may actually be significantly higher. The report claims that the priest abusers were routinely shielded or moved by bishops and Church officials.

“All of [the victims] were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by Church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institutions above all,” the grand jury wrote after reviewing about 1 million documents. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible not only did nothing: They hid it all.”

Now the word is Archbishop Charles Scicluna will be flown in from Malta to look into the situation in the U.S.
But there are questions closer to home which should merit Scicluna's careful attention:

The prelate on the left with the is Monsignor Joseph Bezzina from the Diocese of Gozo, the man on the right is the bishop of Gozo, Mario Grech.

Bezzina has a string of accusations against him regarding predation on pubescent boys, allegations from which he has been shielded by Grech, indeed the dossier on the allegations has disappeared all together apparently.

Grech has form, he failed to carry out the Vatican’s order to defrock Dominic Camilleri – who was found guilty by an administrative and penal tribunal within the Malta diocese in 2003. However as late as September 2015 he was reported to still be saying Mass in a private chapel and presenting himself as a priest.

Bishop Grech's lack of action in this worrying case has led to Gozitan clergy  writing to Pope Francis calling for a Vatican investigation of Grech’s ‘professional misconduct’– and there can be no doubt that the incident raises uncomfortable questions that need to be answered. So far the Gozo Curia has consistently deferred such questions citing “confidentiality”; but this has only flung open the floodgates of speculation, giving rise to rumours that Camilleri may be blackmailing the Gozo bishop with threats of incriminating revelations concerning other priests.

This is a worrying pattern that is very familiar and, the present climate might afford us as a Church the clear-sightedness to look at such reports again with clearer vision and address these shortcomings sooner rather than later!


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