Priest Admits to Relationship with Congressman

Malta Media News
October 19, 2006

A priest who resides in Gozo has admitted to an intimate two-year relationship he had with former United States Republican Congressman Mark Foley around 40 years ago. Speaking to The Herald Tribune Fr. Anthony Mercieca described a series of encounters that he said Mark Foley might perceive as sexually inappropriate. The priest who is now 72, said that he befriended Mark Foley after moving from Brazil to Florida in 1966. The incidents allegedly took place when Foley was an altar boy at Sacred Heart Catholic Church and attended the parish school.

Mark Foley resigned from the US Congress last month after a number of suggestive e-mails to young male pages were uncovered. The former Congressman has said soon after his resignation that he had been molested as a boy by a "clergyman."

Speaking on Tuesday, Foley's civil lawyer, Gerald Richman told reporters the alleged abuser was a Catholic priest whose name he planned to share with the church on Wednesday.

Members of Foley's family who spoke to the newspaper in anonymity claim that Fr. Anthony Mercieca is the priest Foley has claimed sexually abused him. They added that Mark Foley and Fr. Anthony Mercieca had only one sexual encounter when Foley was aged 12 or 13.

The Priest said that, at the time, he considered his relationship with Foley innocent. However he now believed that his actions could be labeled as inappropriate. Fr. Mercieca was adamant that his encounter with Foley was a deviation, and that the Catholic Church has never sent him for counseling during his 38 years in the priesthood in Florida.

Fr. Mercieca said that although Mark Foley plans to "expose him to the world," he still has "great memories of our trips", adding that he wishes the former Congressman well. The Priest added that he is wondering if the Congressman was looking for a since he is only coming forward about the abuse 40 years after it allegedly took place.

As of late Wednesday, neither Mark Foley's attorney nor the Archdiocese of Miami had publicly released the name of the priest Foley says abused him.

During his time in Florida, Fr. Mercieca was assigned to at least six churches, most recently at Blessed Trinity in Miami Springs. The Official Catholic Directory, which lists all priests and their assignments, indicates Fr. Mercieca retired in 2004. The Priest is also listed on the Diocese of Gozo website.


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