Allegations of Paedophilia Story Commented upon in Parliament

The Malta Independent [Malta]
September 30, 2003

Speaking during the parliamentary adjournment last night, government whip Mario Galea commented at length on the story about the alleged child abuse by clerics as alleged on two papers in the past days.

Mr Galea said that he had always hoped that the stories one hears about the other parts of the world, do not happen here. But obviously, he added, Malta is part of the world and it seems it is now our turn.

This is a very disquieting story, which has deeply alarmed many people.

The effects of child abuse on the victims is tremendous. He told of his contact with a person who was abused as a child by a member of the family. His knowledge of this person has shown him the incredible psychological damage that this can do to a personís life, an impact which is not diminished by the passage of years.

Mr Galea said he hopes that this story is not exploited and that the victims are provided with help and support. Society must help the victims; they must not be exploited for sensationalismís sake.

On the other hand, he added, the truth must not be covered up, not even by the church. The church must take adequate steps to expunge the perpetrators and protect the other children.

Are there other victims? If there are more victims who have not come out so far, one must reach them and help them.

It would seem, Mr Galea said, that there could be some attempt to hide what has happened. The church, however, must cooperate with the police investigations: if particular clerics are being investigated by the police and the children must be protected from them.

Mr Galea urged public opinion not to generalise and start blaming all priests. There are many good priests, he said, who have done much good for society. Those who have abused are very few.

This is a tragedy that has befallen Malta. Malta however must be grateful to all that the church and the priests have done on its behalf. Mr Galea said he remembers a similar case involving a priest and the comment made by another priest that such cases make people forget all the good that the church does, such as with the poor and with abandoned children.

Concluding, he urged the police to investigate thoroughly this case with no fear or favour. He is convinced that this is what the police are doing. He also urged the country to be cautious before expressing a judgement, but he concluded with a strong call for the guilty to be punished.

NETís programme

Newsroom, NET TVís news programme, yesterday carried extensive coverage of the story.

Although it never said clearly the location where the alleged abuses took place, its shots were exclusively of St Joseph Home in St Venera and also of the red house in Marfa owned by the society which runs the institute and which usually houses the children of St Josephís in summer.

The programme quoted extensively from written depositions by six people who once were children housed in the home. The depositions concern four priests.

The abuses took place when the children were between 14 and 18, that is when the children were in the older children section of the institute. Children are taken in by the institute when they are 10 years old.

The cases go back to 1983 and involve 10 children, maybe more.

Two cases, involving children aged 15 and 16, have not yet begun to be investigated, the programme said.

Both the police and the religious order have carried out internal investigations into the case and the alleged perpetrators have been removed from contact with the children.

Although quoting extensively from the depositions by the claimed victims, the programme rigorously refrained from quoting from the juicy and sensational parts of the documents where the details about how the alleged sexual abuses were carried out are described.


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