A great help, particularly in the spiritual sense, is how Lawrence Grech, one of the victims of priestly sexual abuse, described the meeting with Archbishop Paul Cremona, OP, on Tuesday evening.
During a press conference on Monday the victims requested a meeting with Mgr Cremona and with Mgr Carmelo Scicluna, which they said would help them emerge from their ordeal.
As it was, Archbishop Cremona promptly replied, saying that he was willing to meet the abuse victims. The meeting took place on Tuesday evening, and did not finish until quite late in the day.
Mr Grech said he was very satisfied with the way the meeting had gone, but he had only one wish, which was that this meeting with Archbishop Cremona had taken place much earlier on.
Lou Bondi, who is helping the victims with their media relations, said the meeting had gone as planned. He added that the Archbishop had been very understanding, as he took time to listen to each victim.
It was already a positive step that Mgr Cremona had agreed to the meeting and that it had taken place, Mr Bondi said, but he had gone on to invite the victims back for another meeting, accompanied by their wives and children.
Archbishop Cremona understood that the family members, in such cases, suffered as much as the victim did, he said. The meeting could be described as a very emotional meeting, and when a victim was speaking of his story it was not unusual for this to trigger off the other victims.
Mr Bondi said the Archbishop himself had requested his presence at the meeting, and asked him to speak on the victims’ behalf. Mgr Scicluna had himself said he was disposed to meeting with the victims, he said, and he would be coordinating this meeting, together with Fr Anton Gouder.
Mr Grech added that they had presented a formal request to the Archbishop, for a meeting with the Pope while he is here on the short visit to Malta later on this month. Mr Bondi said the letter had been passed on to Archbishop Cremona and Fr Gouder during the meeting, which lasted around two hours and 15 minutes.
Mr Grech also said that they were remaining grounded, and not raising their hopes too much that this meeting would materialise. But if it were to happen it would be a positive step, he said.
A spokesman for the Archbishop’s Curia said the meeting had taken place in private, as the victims had requested, and added that the formal request to meet with the Pope now had to go through the normal channels.