March 5, 2021
By Julian Bonnici
Gozo’s Bishop Anton Teuma has asked for forgiveness from the many people who have suffered some sort of abuse, physical or sexual, from members of the clergy.
This comes after two Gozitan priests, Joseph Cini and Joseph Sultana, were charged with raping and abusing a young boy.
In a video, Teuma said that without getting into the merits of the case, the allegations have left anger, pain, and uncertainty within the Gozitan diocese.
He reiterated the abuse can never be tolerated within the church or society as a whole. He has even sought advice from Pope Francis on the issue.
“I sincerely apologize to those of you who have at one time or another suffered abuses of all kinds in the context of the Church, to themselves and to their families,” Teuma said.
The issue erupted after Cini and Sultana were charged with sexually abusing an altar boy several years ago. Cini has also been charged with raping the boy, who was eight years old at the time.
The victim, now in his 20s, has described in disturbing detail how Cini had regularly forced him to masturbate him in return for money and how he had once raped him at his house.
Meanwhile, Joseph Sultana would sexually fondle him inside the parish hall or sacristy. A third, Eucharist Sultana, escaped charges because the case was time-barred.
Teuma was the one who directed the victim to the Church’s Safeguarding Commission, after several months of speaking to the man.
What do you think of the Bishop’s statement?