Former Congressman Mark Foley, Abused by Maltese Priest, Also Hopes for Apology

The Malta Independent
April 25, 2010

Following last Sunday’s landmark meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and a group of Maltese victims of abuse, former Congressman Mark Foley, who was himself abused by a Maltese priest in his youth told the Florida press that he is hoping for the same thing for him and for all victims of clergy abuse.

Fr Anthony Mercieca had abused Mr Foley as a child, abuse that the priest himself has admitted to when he had served in Florida.

“The priest befriended me and started slowly making me feel like a special child, and, as time went by, things advanced and we were going to steam rooms and places where I had no idea what we were doing but nonetheless, it was happening,” he told the WPTV television station after hearing the news of Sunday’s meeting.

It was 40 years ago when, as an 11-year old altar boy, Mr Foley met Fr Mercieca at his Lake Worth church. “Virtually every commandment you’ve been taught now violated, don’t tell your parents, I’ll kill myself if you do, nobody can know about our secret,” Mr Foley said the priest told him.

He went on to say how the abuse lasted two years, and only stopped when Fr Mercieca, who is now back in his native Gozo, left the parish.

Mr Foley said for years it was the victims who were being punished. For years they told their stories and no one believed them, but the tables have now turned and he believes the Vatican is feeling intense pressure to come clean.

After the Foley incident, which cropped up in 2006 when he was running for re-election, only to have his hopes dashed by a scandal in which he was accused of harassing young employees, another former abuse victim had come forward claiming he too had been abused by Fr Mercieca.

The lawsuit charged the Miami Archdiocese with negligence in allowing Fr Mercieca to have had “unfettered” contact with young boys despite having a “history of sexual perversity and inappropriate contact with children”.

The lawsuit, filed in the Miami civil courts, claimed Fr Mercieca lured the plaintiff, when he was a 12- to 13-year-old altar boy, to the top of the church’s bell tower and performed oral sex on him despite protestations from the boy.

The lawsuit also alleges the Miami Archdiocese had previous knowledge that Fr Mercieca had sexually abused other boys before and during the time in which it is claimed he abused the plaintiff. It also alleges that the Miami Archdiocese destroyed a number of incriminating documents and files with the intention of concealing the sexual abuse of minors by Mercieca and other priests.

The case was later settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.


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