No Comment on When Church Probe Will Reach a Conclusion

By Claudia Calleja
Times of Malta
September 1, 2010

The head of the Church-appointed response team looking into allegations of sexual abuse by priests in an orphanage will not say when he expects to conclude the investigation that started seven years ago.

"I give no details about the case... I don't discuss the case at all," Judge Victor Caruana Colombo said when asked when the response team would wrap up the investigation now that it had the victims' testimonies in hand.

The Vatican's Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Mgr Charles Scicluna, who conducted interviews with victims in June and July, presented his report on the meetings to the Archdiocese of Malta in July.

His aim had been to gather direct information to supplement the work being done on the case by the Curia's response team in the hope that the full investigation would be concluded "expeditiously".

Mgr Scicluna said on Monday it was now up to the Archdiocese to conclude its investigation "in a timely manner".

Earlier this year, Judge Caruana Colombo had said the response team would only pass on a report to the Archbishop "when all witnesses are heard". Even then he stressed he could not comment on this particular case, involving allegations by eight men that they were abused by priests at St Joseph Home in Sta Venera in the 1980s and 1990s.

He would not comment yesterday on whether the investigation could be speeded up once Mgr Scicluna's report was in hand.

According to general procedure, when the response team concludes its report it will hand it over to the Archbishop and the Major Superior, who would then refer it to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

The response team does not make its conclusions public.

The Vatican may appoint an ad hoc tribunal to decide on the punishment, with the harshest being the dismissal from priesthood.

The Church's response team has received 84 allegations of child abuse, involving 45 Maltese priests, over the last 11 years.

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