The Malta Independent 20 March 2018, Tuesday

Church, Police give conflicting answers on child sex abuse

Malta Independent Sunday, 29 June 2014, 11:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

The Catholic Church in Malta and the police have given conflicting details regarding priests involved in child sex abuse cases since 2010.

The Church told this newspaper that a total of 11 complaints were received during this period and so far, two of these cases were found to be positive. When asked whether any referrals were made to the police, the Church said yes.

In contrast, when asked to reveal the number of cases investigated by police in terms of priests abusing children, and the number of prosecutions between 2010 and now, the police said; “Please note that during the period requested, the Police did not receive any reports.”

This has resulted in a rather confusing situation with both sides giving conflicting statements.

The procedure relating to Church investigations into sexual abuse is explained in the document entitled “Statement of Policy & Procedures In Cases of Sexual Abuse in Pastoral Activity”. This document is currently being updated and the new document is in its final stages, a representative from the Church said.

The document in its current form defines child sex abuse as the improper exposure of a child to sexual contact, activity or behaviour.

“A person of mature pastoral judgement, prepared to undergo appropriate professional trainingis appointed as a delegate for the Bishops’ Conference and for the Major Superiors’ Conference in responding to allegations of sexual abuse,” the document read. “Any allegation of child sexual abuse by a pastoral functionary should be referred to this delegate. It is preferable that the diocesan bishop himself will not conduct the preliminary investigation. The bishop must be in a position to evaluate the results objectively.”

In May, Pope Francis announced that the Church has a zero tolerance policy for clergy who abuse children and revealed that three bishops are under investigation by the Vatican for such alleged crimes. He called these situations “ugly crimes” that are an affront to God.

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