The Malta Independent 23 February 2020, Sunday

Mgr Joseph Spiteri could be Malta’s next Archbishop

Thursday, 22 January 2015, 07:46 Last update: about 6 years ago

Mgr Joseph Spiteri's name is being whispered in the corridors of power of the Curia and is being named as one of the favourites to take up the post of Archbishop of Malta, The Malta Independent is informed.

Apostolic Administrator Charles Scicluna is still in the running however, despite yesterday being appointed to head a Vatican college within the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Gozo Bishop Mario Grech is also thought to be a candidate, but it seems that his initial momentum has faltered.

The new archbishop, once appointed, will replace Mgr Paul Cremona who stepped down last October due to illness and fatigue. Following the resignation of Archbishop Cremona, Bishop Scicluna was named Apostolic Administrator and effective head of the Maltese church until a new archbishop is named. Sources within the Curia have indicated that the announcement will most likely be made before Easter.

Mgr Spiteri, 55, was ordained priest in June of 1984 by Archbishop Joseph Mercieca.  After pursuing his studies in Canon Law, he joined the Holy See's diplomatic service and worked in Panama, Iraq, Mexico, Venezuela, Greece and Portugal.

In 2009 he was appointed as titular archbishop of Serta, and an apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka, where he helped in the humanitarian crises through Catholic organizations based there.  In 2013, he was appointed apostolic nuncio to Ivory Coast.

(Mgr Spiteri with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka in 2013)

Yesterday, the Vatican announced that Mgr Scicluna has been appointed to head a Vatican college within the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith to examine appeals to the ordinary session of the Congregation. 

Contacted by The Malta Independent, Mgr Scicluna said that the role he has been given in Rome is compatible with any role that he holds or may hold in Malta, including possibly that of Archbishop.

The appointment he has been given at the Vatican means that he will need to fly to Rome once a month to lead the college but would not impinge on his duties here.

The members of the College of which Bishop Scicluna is the President are made up of four cardinals and two bishops with a cardinal and a bishop as substitutes.

Bishop Scicluna was the Vatican's long-time sex abuse prosecutor and his new role at the Vatican is to hear appeals by priests accused of molesting minors. Pope Francis in November announced the creation of the panel to speed up the Vatican's review of appeals of priests sanctioned for abuse. In recent years, the Vatican has been receiving on average 400-500 accusations a year, significantly increasing the caseload of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Mgr Scicluna was the congregation's sex crimes prosecutor from 2002-2012 and was responsible for cracking down on abusive priests with tougher new laws.



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