Gozo Curia says normal procedures followed in Nadur case abuse case

By Matthew Vella
Malta Today
January 29, 2006

The Gozo Curia has stated it has followed "normal procedures" according to directives from the Congregation of Rome with respect to accusations of child sexual abuse by a Nadur priest who has fled Gozo in the wake of investigations.

In a letter to MaltaToday, Reverend Anton Refalo, the Curia's public relations officer, said it was not true the Gozo Church had not taken action on serious accusations of sexual abuse mentioned in this newspaper.

Refalo categorically denied that Bishop Nikol G. Cauchi had admitted seminarians who were known to be paedophiles against the better advice of the seminary rector.

Last week this newspaper reported that a Gozitan diocesan priest from the Nadur parish had fled to the United States after complaints of alleged child sex abuse by the priest were referred to the Curia for investigation.

Nadur's archpriest Mgr Salvu Muscat confirmed he referred complaints from parents whose children they claimed had been sexually abused by the priest, whose name is known to MaltaToday, to the Curia.

In a letter to this newspaper this week, Mgr Muscat denied that the priest in question was ever entrusted with the supervision of the parish's altar boys. He also reiterated that whenever he received any complaints about alleged sexual abuse he was always took the complaints seriously and reported them to his superiors.

MaltaToday is informed that parents and children alleging the abuse have already been interviewed by the Curia's Response Team on child abuse.

Last week archpriest Salvu Muscat said the priest in question had left the island without informing anyone beforehand. "He never spoke to me about anything and it was his decision to leave," Mgr Muscat said about the unexpected departure of the priest. "We have not been in contact so I don't know exactly where he is."

Malta Curia spokesperson Charles J Buttigieg said the Response Team could not confirm or deny whether it was investigating or not the case due to confidentiality.

"The Response Team forwards its report and recommendations to the bishop or religious superior concerned. Action is taken according to the particular circumstances of the case.

"The proceedings of the Response Team are conducted in camera… Due to confidentiality the Response Team cannot confirm or deny whether it is investigating or not a particular case."

Contents of anonymous emails from a person claiming to have been the victim of sexual abuse by the priest, have been denied by both Mgr Salvu Muscat and Bishop Nikol G Cauchi.

The emails, which were sent around Gozo as well as the Nadur local council describe the harrowing manner the priest allegedly abused an altar boy. Mgr Muscat said the email carried "many false allegations" which were only aggravating matters. Bishop Cauchi said the allegations about him in the email had also been false.


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